IBM has released early versions of three grid-based technologies intended to help corporate and third-party developers better manage grid-based resources in order to solve large and compute-intensive problems.
The products collectively give developers access to idle computing capacity, improve their productivity, and more smoothly transform business processes as a way to extract more value from IT investments.
"The idea behind making these still-emerging technologies available now is to get the market involved. It gives us a chance to get feedback from the market, which helps us shape these technologies. And it gives us a chance to gain acceptance in some key areas," said Amit Patel, emerging-technology strategist for alphaWorks.
The first, called ZetaGrid, helps developers who are strapped for compute power to access the free capacity of dozens of computers, both local and remote.
IBM said it is the first specification of a J2EE interface that helps to "split up" an application and send it to multiple sites within a grid environment. With the tool, programmers can work simultaneously on complex development projects or problem-solve within an existing one.
The technology is also meant to offer a more efficient infrastructure for protecting grid resources. IBM has already tested the technology in its Boeblingen labs to verify a mathematical computation across a grid of thousands of computers in a heterogeneous environment.
"Right now it is being used by almost 11,000 computers in 70 different countries that are trying to solve the Reyman Hypothesis, a very large and well-known math problem attempting to verify the zeroes of the zeta function," Patel said.
A second technology, Grid File Replication Manager, which improves on the existing open source-based Replica Location Service from Globus, is a web-based tool for managing grid replicas.
In working with dozens of development partners who are widely dispersed geographically, it is often necessary to create remote and read-only copies, or replicas, of files. Replication can be used to reduce the latency commonly associated with accessing files.
"This can make it easier to manage replicas of data on the grid. It also gives you an easier way to create and search through entries in the (Globus) Replica Location Service," said Patel.
The third technology is Distributed Parallel Programming Environment for Java, a set of tools for compute-intensive applications, mainly in the fields of bio-informatics as well as financial analytics, which often require the creation of markedly faster distributed, and parallel applications.
"This [technology] introduced the concept of distributed threads so developers can concentrate their programming on applications that require these threads. It provides the infrastructure support for the distribution and execution of those threads as well as message passing and synchronisation. Essentially, it addresses the issue of performance in a highly computational environment," Patel explained.
The new technologies will support Open Grid Services Architecture, which is a set of specifications and standards that serves as a common framework for building grid applications.
Ed Scannell writes for Infoworld
This was first published in August 2004