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Sun launches grid computing tools

Looking to harvest technologies planted in the fields of both Web services and grid computing, Sun Microsystems has unveiled new grid computing wares.

Grid computing promises to connect a variety of systems into a virtual supercomputer capable of accessing unused resources within a network as if the entirety of machines is one single system.

The product, Technical Compute Portal, comprises the iPlanet Portal, Sun's Grid Engine, and Sun Open Network Environment (ONE). Grid Engine powers grid environments; Sun ONE can be used to make data available as an asset via the Web services model, and the iPlanet Portal provides an interface to such services, according to John Tollefsrud, product manager for grid computing at based Sun.

"We have enhanced our grid computing capabilities and now we have grid computing and Services-on-Demand available," Tollesfrud said.

Sun is not the only vendor with technological seeds that are growing into Web services and grid computing efforts.

Compaq and IBM have both detailed plans to offer grid computing wares throughout the last several months.

Microsoft's vision is one of "participatory computing" a collaborative network in which every device contributes according to its available resources. Microsoft did not use the term "grid computing" when revealing its participatory computing strategy, but the two are not entirely different.

Grid computing has been used primarily in the scientific and academic communities, but Sun's Tollefsrud said that with its new solution, the concept could move to the corporate arena.

"We think the action is going to be inside the enterprise," Tollefsrud said.

Brent Sleeper, an analyst at the Stencil Group, said combining Web services with a grid is a "great idea," there is much work that needs to be done before it becomes a reality.

"We'll need to move beyond today's hand-coded implementations towards a much more uniform model for implementing the Web services standards. Moreover, we need to think about services in a less endpoint-specific way," Sleeper said.

Instead, services such as clustering, load-balancing, security, and the other services typically provided by the application server today will need to be conceived as a cloud, Sleeper said.

Even though grid computing is a long way off, Sleeper continued, companies should consider the benefits.

"This early stage is a perfect time to begin thinking about the potential applications and impact on enterprise IT architecture," Sleeper said.

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