Sun Microsystems, IBM and Hewlett-Packard are to bolster their utility-computing initiatives in 2004 with upgrades to key products.
Sun plans to update its Sun Grid Engine as well as its services-provisioning offerings, which will include tighter integration between the Solaris operating system and the N1 provisioning software, according to David Nelson-Gal, vice president of N1 systems at Sun.
Nelson-Gal explained that Solaris 10 would include a feature called "zones" to ensure that any applications competing for Solaris resources will not significantly degrade the performance of one another in the process.
Sun will also boost the tools it offers for utility computing. Last month, company officials said they would deliver a developer kit intended to knit the company's virtualisation software more closely to Sun's hardware and management software.
This should enable systems-management and security products from third parties to more easily share data and system performance information with N1-based systems.
"In 2004 we will place emphasis on services and managing multitiered services. You'll see significant improvements in customer productivity and in utilisation levels customers get from the resources they already have," Nelson-Gal said.
IBM will also focus on utility computing in 2004, particularly within its services business. At its PartnerWorld conference next month, the company is expected to debut its On Demand Innovation Centres. Similar to its WebSphere technical centres, the new centres will afford users and developers the chance to test their products separately or test them with IBM's existing On Demand products.
Early next year IBM will upgrade the Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator with additional bundled services offerings designed to improve automation of large datacentres. The company will continue to incorporate virtualisation technologies into its flagship server software products.
The company intends to incorporate autonomic capabilities into DB2 and associated content management products next year. Autonomic technologies, which carry out a range of self-healing and self-managing functions, are key building blocks in IBM's On Demand portfolio.
"We will be driving autonomic capabilities into DB2 that can help ease administration and lessen the technical burden on corporate and third-party developers," an IBM spokesperson said. "Next year will be about building information management infrastructure and content management."
Similarly, HP will continue to push its Adaptive Enterprise initiative in the coming year. The company intends to shift the focus on some of its work in the more technical or high-performance computing markets to the commercial markets, particularly in the area of grid computing via its virtualisation technologies.
To that end, HP last month took the wraps off new technology that better virtualises desktops by pushing computing power and management capabilities out of the datacentre and down to blade servers which can better manage desktop compute cycles.
"Our grid services practice, which started in the high-performance technical space with large-scale clusters, is now growing incrementally in the enterprise space. We will combine in some capabilities from the enterprise practices with the grid practices," said Nick van der Zweep, director of virtualisation and utility computing at HP.
Ed Scannell and Tom Sullivan write for InfoWorld