Six months ago major IT suppliers set up the Enterprise Grid Alliance (EGA) to push for grid adoption in the enterprise and to develop standards. We grill EGA president (and Oracle vice-president) Donald Deutsch on the organisation's goals.
What business problem is the EGA trying to solve?
The EGA is focused on commercial and technical applications. The first represent the guts of organisations and include highly transaction-oriented applications such as ERP, CRM, general ledger and business intelligence, while the second are applications that are not as transaction-oriented but are still fundamental to the business, such as portfolio analysis in the financial sector.
The ability of grid to handle technical applications is well known, but what role will it play in CRM and ERP?
A fundamental one. EGA members like EMC, Fujitsu Siemens, HP, Intel, NEC, Network Appliance, Oracle and Sun came together because their products are being used today to address these sorts of mainline business applications. They recognise it as a business opportunity and aim to bootstrap the market and accelerate the acceptance of grid in the enterprise.
So is it a marketing organisation?
Clearly, the EGA's objective is to speed up the time to market for grid technology and grow the market by identifying real or perceived inhibitors to the adoption of grid technology in the enterprise and then addressing those inhibitors in whatever way necessary. If that requires the development of specifications and creation of standards, the EGA will do that. If one of the inhibitors is a lack of knowledge in the marketplace or a misunderstanding of the current state of technology, the EGA will address those problems through marketing.
Is the EGA a marketing or standards technology group?
It's 60/40, and I'm not sure which is 60 and which is 40, because it depends on what people identify as the inhibitors.
Users are often suspicious of marketing efforts because they have been burned by hype cycles before. Why should they pay any attention to this effort?
We have a large and impressive group of supplier members and an increasing number of users, and we are demonstrating how it can be applied for users' benefit. The products add up to the hardware and software stack that makes up grid.
A number of grid standards efforts, such as the Global Grid Forum, are under way. Won't your effort create conflicts?
The EGA does not want to invent something we can acquire from another consortium. The bias of the EGA is to put in place as quickly as possible solutions to any inhibitors to the adoption of grid. If another forum has a solution to a problem identified by the EGA, we will work with it to adopt its solution. In the absence of such a solution, we will assist any organisation able or better equipped to create a solution.
What have you done to attract user organisations to the EGA?
We do have a few user organisations and are aggressively and actively recruiting others.
Some big companies are missing from your list. Can you be successful without IBM and Microsoft, for instance?
We continue to talk with Microsoft and IBM. It's their choice to join or not. The EGA offers a level playing field - a one-company, one-vote organisation. At any one payment level, any company is equal to any other.
Patrick Thibodeau writes for Computerworld
This was first published in September 2004