Companies have started deploying grid technology to run business systems, according to analyst firm Quocirca. Its Grid Index survey, commissioned by Oracle, found growing demand for the technology.
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Although grid technology has been used to speed up applications in oil and gas exploration, pharmaceutical research and mathematical modelling in financial services, the study showed it was now being deployed for enterprise resource planning.
Peter Condon, technology solutions director at Oracle, said, "We are seeing considerable interest in grid technology."
The main reason for users deploying grid technology is to make better use of existing IT assets. According to Quocirca, businesses typically only achieve 29% IT utilisation on their IT assets.
Clive Longbottom, service director at Quocirca, said, "Based on the greater understanding and acceptance of how today's virtualisation technologies and service oriented architectures can help create a more flexible infrastructure, we are seeing broad acceptance that effectiveness and efficiencies can be obtained by underpinning this with grid computing."
Longbottom said there was no reason why grids could not be used to run SAP or Oracle enterprise software.
He added that grid technology was moving rapidly from niche scientific and financial applications to more mainstream roll-outs. However, users needed to develop a standard IT environment before implementing grids, Longbottom warned.
The study found users were increasingly building more consistency and reuse into corporate platforms. "Achieving this consistency is an important first step towards adopting more modern, flexible and dynamic infrastructure solutions such as grid computing," said Longbottom.
The research found that 47% of respondents had standardised their e-mail and collaboration systems and 43% had standard application server platform environments.
To implement a grid, Longbottom said users needed a flexible IT infrastructure that enabled servers to be provisioned easily. This meant using virtualisation technology for servers and storage.
The study showed users were investing in such technology. Longbottom said that by deploying virtualisation technology, using a service oriented approach to engineering applications, and running blade server hardware, users were establishing an infrastructure that could support grid computing.