All those computers, sitting on desks throughout your office, most of the time doing—nothing. Grid computing proponents have long promised to tap those machines, providing a new and low-cost source of processing power. But thus far, the applications for grid have mostly benefited scientists, derivatives analysts and people trying to extract alien messages from galactic background noise.
Now one of grid’ biggest boosters is hoping to change the situation, creating a truly general-purpose grid by turning networks of computers into a single virtual machine. (For more on virtualization, see “The Virtues of Virtualization,” Sept. 15.) Platform Computing’ Enterprise Grid Orchestrator (EGO) purports to offer a standardized way of consolidating, managing and sharing computing resources spread throughout a grid, one that will put those resources to use for Web services, service-oriented architectures, and—through partnerships—general applications.
It’ nothing we haven’t heard before, of course, but Platform has some deals already on the books that make this look somewhat promising. Cognos, for instance, this past summer demonstrated its Cognos ReportNet business reporting software running on EGO. Platform has also partnered with VMWare to create the Platform VM Orchestrator, software that will allow corporations to pool IT resources (CPUs, storage and memory) and automatically carve out environments for running applications on virtual machines, in much the same way as VMWare currently lets customers divide single computers into virtual partitions, each with its own operating system and resources.
The benefit of such a system is that it would allow applications to run unmodified on VMWare virtual environments that could scale up or down quickly depending on requirements and available resources. Getting a sudden surge in usage on the business intelligence application? Suck a few more idle desktop PCs into the pool and put them to work doing something besides warming a desk.
The EGO development kit is available now. Platform VM Orchestrator is due this fall.