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Grid computing technology allows users to harness the computing power of numerous systems. For example, in universities, grids made up of thousands of linked computers are being used to run large engineering and scientific applications.
HP is stepping toward delivering the same capabilities in a commercial application environment. It showed how users could link its Utility Data Center software to a grid-computing environment, enabling data centre resources to be used by grid users and vice versa.
HP hoped to be able to support grid-like networks on which business users looking to increase the computing power available to them will be able to tap into a vast pool of shared resources.
HP also showed a tool that uses drag-and-drop techniques to let users define and advertise their resource requirements in such a network.
But increased security requirements and the complexity of adapting commercial applications to take advantage of the grid computing model means it will be quite some time before the approach is used in business environments.
"These things will begin to take shape in the next year to a year and a half," said Sharad Singhal, a principal engineer at the company's HP Labs research unit. "But how quickly they become a commercial reality is anybody's guess."
Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata, said the much higher I/O and application performance requirements of commercial data processing environments will also limit grid computing's appeal to business users.
"We need to stop talking as though the traditional database application is going to be distributed over a grid," Eunice said. Instead, Eunice expected to see companies adopt the technology to power large analysis applications involving corporate data.