A series of suppliers are bringing the power of grid computing to real-world applications
Although IBM's new range of grid software, discussed last week, possesses a special importance in terms of moving the technology out of specialised sectors and into the general business market, the company is by no means alone in pushing grids as a solution. Indeed, IBM's announcement included no less than five other grid software manufacturers that it would be working with to help it deploy grids. Two in particular are singled out: Platform Computing and DataSynapse.
The first of these has a full website that is well worth exploring. As well as information about its products, which include what is claimed to be the first commercially supported version of the Globus Toolkit, Platform Globus, there is an excellent selection of freely-available white papers on not just Platform's own products, but many aspects of grid computing too.
The DataSynapse website is less useful. There are details of its main product, Livecluster 3G, with further links to information about the technology, architecture and system components.
Another grid company on IBM's list is Avaki. Its products include a data grid, a compute grid and the two combined, called a comprehensive grid. Avaki has a selection of technical papers and something called Grid Central, which has more links.
The grid company Entropia is notable in two respects. It has perhaps the top two grid gurus, Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman, on its scientific advisory board, and its grids are based entirely on PCs running Windows - making them examples of desktop scavenging grids. The product is called DCGrid.
Another interesting company is United Devices. It has a series of Grid FAQs and details of its grid solutions. These include the Enterprise Metaprocessor, with links to more info, and the Metaprocessor on Demand.
Metaprocessor on Demand is a remarkable "pay-as-you-go" computing solution that allows customers to tap into a grid of 8,000 CPUs providing some 14 Teraflops. Those 8,000 machines are owned by Gateway, which cleverly uses spare cycles on machines located in its retail stores across the US.
And if you need even more power, you could always tap into the Global Metaprocessor, which draws on the power of 1.8 million computer systems around the world. The only drawback is that this extraordinary grid is only available to those with "projects that better humankind", such as cancer research.
Next week: Blog nation
This was first published in February 2003