As grid technology gets absorbed into enterprise fabrics, it could become inseparable from technologies such as virtualization and service-oriented architectures (SOA) and the creation of enterprise utilities, according to 451 Group analysts Steve Wallage and William Fellows.
One consequence for grid computing, the analysts said in their 2007 grid computing outlook, is that the term grid computing "will become both more relevant and less used in 2007. It will be more relevant as grids are used to support far more than HPC tasks, but less used as vendors seek to be associated with far more activity, and far higher up the stack, than grid computing."
IBM and Oracle could drop "grid" from their products "in favor of a broader term," the 451 Group analysts wrote, while Microsoft "has made it very clear that it will not use the term 'grid.'"
Terminology aside, virtualization could "deliver the dream of grid computing, if we assume that the dream is the provision of computational resources, on demand, from distributed sources," the analysts wrote.
"To run a job on a grid today, a user has to identify a set of platforms capable of running that job, with the right operating system, libraries and so on," Wallage and Fellows said. "Virtualization introduces a layer of abstraction, which means that instead of having to snoop out what resources are available and try to adapt a problem to use them, a user can describe a resource environment or workspace and expect it to be deployed on the grid. Virtual machines and virtual appliances together with distributed storage facilities and network overlays look as though they will be able to map this kind of virtual workspace onto physical resources. Moreover, the promise is that they will be easy to define, test, install, transport and adjust on demand. Putting them together into 'virtual grids' should enable users to test them before the actual allocation of virtual resources is made."
The notion that grid computing could be subsumed by virtualization technologies that provide the foundations for a service-oriented infrastructure is already causing grid vendors such as Platform Computing, DataSynapse and United Devices to add virtualization offerings to their product lineups.
For 2007, the analysts predicted that:
- Virtualization will go mainstream, changing the data center.
- Grid infrastructure will get baked in to support utility computing, on-demand and SaaS activities.
- SOA will move from experimentation to implementation.
- Virtualization will allow grids to be absorbed into enterprise fabrics.