Weather forecast Will it rain Grids and Clouds by MHairston



               Weather forecast: Will
             it rain Grids and Clouds?
     Bernhard Schott of Platform Computing believes that not only is business ready for the Grid and the
     Grid ready for business, but that it is wise to invest in this technology now, despite the
     economic downturn, as there is money to be saved in the long term as well as efficiencies to be gained

                             Do not believe the prophets who would tell you that the today. Where does Grid reside today? According to Paul
                             wide-spread application of Grid technology for business        Strong (EBay), speaking at CloudScape, “Industry does
                             needs is still far off into the future. Real, operational,     not talk much about [Grid] as it still yields some
                             effective, business-supporting Grids have been around          competitive advantage. Silently, they have been deploying
                             for many years and their utility for all business sectors is   and using Grid technology all over their
                             steadily growing. Plugging organisational Grids into the       infrastructures”.
                             Cloud promises even higher value for the customer, with          I wholeheartedly agree. There is no electronic chip
                             a greater return of investment at a lower total cost of        today, no car, nor plane designed without using Grid
                             ownership. With a value proposition this appealing, one        technology. No major bank goes without it and even the
                             would think that businesses and organisations across the       supply chain serving your grocery shop uses Grid
                             spectrum would be rushing to invest in technologies that       technology!
                             enable leveraging the Cloud.                                     These Grids range in size from a handful of CPUs, to
                                But, one might protest, there is a financial and economic   monsters scaling out to tens of thousands of compute
                             crisis going on causing companies to avoid investments         engines. EBay alone uses some 10,000 hosts for a Grid
                             as much as possible. ‘Yes’, but for the same reason, IT,       database. Several of the larger Grids in EDA and financial
                             energy and other operations costs have become more             services using technology developed by Platform
                             serious business pains than ever before – so, spending         Computing scale out beyond the EBay example, one
                             money on technology that can save money in the near,           almost matching EGEE.
     Bernhard Schott is      middle and long term, makes sense.                               Where does the Cloud reside today? The most famous
        the EU-Research         The good news is that Grid and Cloud technology fit         and, business–wise, most important Cloud is operated
              Programme      this description. A crisis that causes companies to really     by Amazon and hosts primarily Web shops. Besides
              Manager at     think about spending less is a perfect chance for              that, there is not much known about mission–critical,
                 Platform    technologies that enable cost reduction. Grid and the          large-scale industry usage. As reported at the
              Computing,     Cloud are all about saving money! Saving money on              CloudScape workshop, issues such as privacy, the
      Germany. Over the      operations, on hardware and on the energy consumed for         regulatory environment, and liability serve to prevent
        last 20 years, his   powering and cooling data centres without giving away          widespread uptake of public Clouds. Still the cost
      focus has been on      the competitive advantage of a high-performance                advantages      and       associated      business-process
               distributed   infrastructure.                                                improvements make Cloud technology very attractive
           systems: from        Turning a classical data centre into a dynamic data         for many organisations.
            nano-second      centre – by combining Grid and Cloud technology –
      signal distribution    requires a much lower investment compared to the cost of       The Grid and Cloud-based data centre
     over real-time data     new hardware and data centre building costs. The               The issues that prevent companies from hooking up to
          distribution, to   dynamic data centre yields high ROI by improving               outsourced Cloud resources are steering organisations to
               distributed   utilsation, right-sizing resource allocation and cost-         explore the possibilities of building internal Clouds. By
       Enterprise Service    effectively provisioning for peak demand. The combined         combining Grid and Cloud technology for internal use, a
           Architectures.    use of Grid and Cloud technology turns ‘Red Hot’ data          next-generation data centre is created. A public Cloud is
      Since 2000 he has      centres ‘Green’ by workload and resource policy-driven         characterised by the ease of access and admin-free
        been at Platform     energy optimisation.                                           resource allocation. Enterprise Clouds, while open to
              Computing         So get ready for a cloudburst of data centre conversions    internal user groups only, still provide the Cloud-style
     specialising in HPC     to the new technologies enabling this. As proof of this        ease and dynamics of resource allocation with minimal
         data centre and     claim, I will cite several business drivers for Cloud          admin involvement. Such an enterprise Cloud may also
      Grid technologies.     adoption, and describe a solution scenario available           be called dynamic data centre as it implements

16                                                                                                                            eStrategies | Projects

                infrastructure access by Cloud-style dynamic resource         against application demand for compute performance
                allocations.                                                  can also be used to meet energy consumption targets. Use
                   With an enterprise Cloud, the user benefits from faster    your Cloud-style infrastructure to dynamically launch or
                resource assignment to changing business demands –            decommission resources according to demand
                while automated procedures like allocation of existing        fluctuations. In an ROI calculation conducted by Platform
                resources, instantiation of virtual machines (VMs), or        Computing, we have shown that energy cost reductions of
                application and operating system (OS) provisioning on to      14-22 per cent are possible, without affecting performance.
                fresh hardware reduces the workload on admins, thus           You can learn more on this approach in my talk at the
                reducing costs. Grid middleware is used to match              Green IT session at OGF25 in Catania, Sicily in March and
                fluctuating business demand to available resources in the     this will be covered in the next issue of this magazine.
                most efficient way possible and, on demand, automatically
                (de-)/allocate resources (to)/from the Cloud layer.           The dynamic data centre and beyond
                                                                                Combining Grid with Cloud style ‘any-infrastructure’
                Green Grid and Cloud: Saving money                            provisioning creates the most energy saving, cost efficient
                while saving energy and the planet                            and user friendly data centre. That’s something do-able
                Having defined the dynamic data centre as the                 today, and feel free to connect with me on this issue:
                combination of Cloud flexibility on resources with Grid
                flexibility on workload policies, we can now turn ‘Red          Beyond, I would expect dynamicity between
                Hot’ data centres into ‘Green’ operations on the fly. In      applications and infrastructure – both enabled to
                spite of economic troubles, industry users in all verticals   communicate or even negotiate about resources, topology-
                are looking into Green IT because of the potential cost       requirements and availabilities. For first successful steps
                savings and reduction in operational risk. Energy prices      into that direction, see and look out
                are rising systematically, so what can a data centre owner    for the upcoming DGSI project.★
                do about it?
                   One way is to look at the EC Code Of Conduct On Data       About Platform Computing
                Centres and find out about the various options to reduce      Platform Computing provides software that dynamically
                the CO2 footprint and energy consumption of his data          connects IT resources to workload demand according to
                centre. Unfortunately, many of the options are a little bit   business policies. Over 2,000 of the world’s largest
                intensive on the investment side (buy new hardware, new       organisations rely on Platform solutions to improve IT
                data centre).                                                 productivity and reduce data centre costs. Platform has
                   But you can also achieve lower CO2 emissions and           strategic relationships with Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft,
                reduced energy bills with a much smaller investment by        Red Hat, and SAS. Building on 16 years of market
                exploiting the flexibility of the dynamic data centre. The    leadership, Platform continues to help data centres be more
                Grid middleware used to control and balance workload          efficient, responsive and dynamic. ★                                                                                                                           17

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