The Virtualization Room

Jun 14 2007   3:52PM GMT

Virtualization and next-generation grids: What’s really NG? What’s just a fad?

Jan Stafford Jan Stafford Profile: Jan Stafford

Does a grid by any other name smell as sweet? In years of covering grid computing technologies, I’ve seen the definition of “grid” changed to fit vendors’ products or the computing flavor of the month.

In general, I see the most basic function of grids is creating virtual communities of servers, applications and users. (Let me know if you see it otherwise.)

So, when I heard about virtualized service grids, I wondered if the “virtualized” moniker just get added because virtualization is hot right now? Or, is this a real next-generation grid model. Well, there’s a lot of activity in this space, as I’ve seen when reading Virtualization and Grid Computing blog, which has been a great resource for me. I see, too, that endors seem to be hopping on board. For instance, on the Inside HPC blog, I read that grid vendor United Devices is pursuing creation of virtualization products.

Recently, I asked Ash Massoudi, CEO and co-founder of NextAxiom, a virtualized service grid technology firm, some basic questions about virtualized service grids. Here’s an excerpt from our exchange:

What’s the difference betweeen traditional grids and virtualized service grids?

Massoudi: “The first difference is in programming models used by each. In traditional grid computing, it becomes a programmer’s responsibility, through the use of a dedicated library, to build an application that is designed to run on the grid. So, the programming model requires programming to the grid. In a virtualized service grid, software business and integration components are assembled using a Service-Oriented-Programming (SOP) technique that requires zero-knowledge of the computer resources. The application developer doesn’t need to explicitly identify the load and how it is allocated or to create work units accordingly. Each business or integration component is a service (implicit work unit) that can be composed of other services. The same Service Virtual Machine (SVM) that runs the final application will transparently externalize and distribute the service load across all available computer resources.

“Another difference is that service grid virtualization has a built-in concept of application multi-tenancy and thus favors scaling-up, through multiple-cores, over scaling out as is common with traditional grid computing.”

Why should IT managers take a look at service grid virtualization? What benefits can it bring to their companies?

Massoudi: IT managers should consider service grid virtualization since it reduces TCO across human capital as well as machine resources. Also, the business and integration services that are programmed and virtualized on the service grid provide a way to directly tie their efforts to the tremendous business value that they are creating.

What type of company would use service grid virtualization?

Massoudi: “You need significant IT expertise to run and operate a Virtualized Service Grid (VSG). Large enterprises who already operate data centers and need composite and flexible applications across their existing legacy systems should think of owning and operating their own service grid.”

What type of IT infrastructure is a good fit for service grid virtualization, and for what apps is it appropriate?

Massoudi: Multi-core processor architectures like the dual-core Intel Itanium 2 processor provide the most cost-effective and efficient foundation for Virtualized Service Grids. The more tenants you can run on a single machine the higher the efficiency of the service grid. Service grids are most suited for creating any composite business application or business process that needs to integrate across departmental application silos or enterprises.

My research continues, as does the job of separating the wheat (real technologies) from the chaff (vendor hype). If you’re involved with virtualized service grids — either as a user or developer — or other next-generation grid models, please comment here or write to me at editor@searchservervirtualization.com.

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