21 February 2001 IBM has announced an initiative to bring the power of ‘grid computing’ to enterprises by marrying the technology with emerging web services standards. The computing giant also unveiled plans to grid-enable its entire product portfolio as it tries to stake out an early lead in the market.
At the Global Grid Forum in Toronto, IBM, together with a team of researchers from the Globus Project, announced a set of grid computing standards designed to allow businesses to share applications and computing power across an organisation or among partners. The Globus Project is an open source development group that aims to provide the necessary middleware for grid computing.
The new set of specifications, dubbed the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA), builds upon web services technologies such as extensible mark-up language (XML) and the simple object access protocol (SOAP), and promises to make highly distributed computing a commercial reality.
To date, the use of grid computing has been largely confined to academic and scientific projects. The idea behind grid technology is to provide computing power as an electricity-like utility. So, computers linked together over the Internet into grids will provide all the resources – be they storage, databases, processing power or applications – that anyone needs, whenever they need it.
OGSA has already received support from software giant Microsoft, and grid technology companies Platform Computing, Entropia and Avaki. IBM also announced that it will use OGSA as the key foundation for its eLiza project. This is one of IBM’s early efforts to develop autonomic computers, systems that look after themselves and can adapt to the tasks required of them.