Liverpool University identifies grid benefits

Grid computing will be a big theme at CeBIT, where one UK university will be highlighting the business issues surrounding the...

Grid computing will be a big theme at CeBIT, where one UK university will be highlighting the business issues surrounding the technology and identifying which applications can demonstrate its potential.

Dennis Kehoe, the Saxby professor of e-business at the University of Liverpool, will be speaking about the work of the university's Aimes Centre in identifying business applications from grid computing.

According to Kehoe, grid computing - which allows companies to use technology like a utility - is at the same stage as the internet was circa 1993; with an enormous potential for business opportunity.

"We are looking for the sweet-spot where technology developments and business need comes together," Kehoe said. "The time when business people can interpret 'e-science' in a practical way."

The Aimes centre has developed a grid business development process to enable com-mercial opportunities to be exploited through the creation of grid start-up companies.

Researchers at Aimes have estimated that firms can save up to 30% of their computing resources by optimising processes using grid computing.

"In logistics for example, companies have a set of deliveries to make every day which have to be fixed," Kehoe said. "But if they had access to infinite computing power for 20 seconds to analyse all the factors, they could save a lot of resources."

Grid computing also has potential in industries such as manufacturing and aerospace, where there are large complex supply chains that need to share information. "The technology can create portal communities which drive business benefits through aggregation," Kehoe said.

The likes of IBM, Oracle and Hewlett-Packard have been pushing grid computing, using terms such as on-demand or utility computing, but suppliers should be clear about what they are offering, Kehoe said.

"The business benefits are key," he said. "We need a common understanding about the stages, the security implications, contractual arrangements and service level agreements."

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