The Way Business Is Moving published by
Issue Date: November 2003

Sun Microsystems makes grid computing more accessible

January 2004

Sun Microsystems has taken a step towards making grid computing more accessible to businesses by announcing the next phase of its Grid Everywhere computing strategy. In terms of this move, the company is introducing a configuration that uses 'building blocks' to tailor grids to the specific needs of customers, explains Jan Dry, solutions and technology manager at Sun Microsystems for the sub-Sahara region.

He says Sun's Grid Everywhere initiative is being driven by its High Performance and Technical Computing (HPTC) group. It features a three-pronged approach to grid deployment based on building block components, extensive partnerships and alliances. It focuses on the HPTC market as the early-adopters of technologies that over time gain broad acceptance in business computing.
"The new building blocks provide an array of expertise, products, technologies, alliances and services to design form-fitting grid architectures that help organisations achieve higher utilisation of their existing resources," Dry says.
He explains that grid computing is about building local or global trade exchanges for compute capacity and data access. Data Grid solutions, for example, enable the collection, management, and protection of data regardless of user or data location, while visualisation grids enable applications to perform graphics operations using local or remote graphics systems.
"At present, grid computing is at the point of moving from grass-roots deployment to becoming a business imperative. Extensive HPTC collaborations have given Sun the required expertise and a unique perspective on the readiness of such technologies for deployment in business computing," he adds.
Sun's building blocks for grid computing come in four categories: access, data, computation, and visualisation. Sun's access software enables efficient usage of resources regardless of location. The software is provided through a new Grid Portal solution that relies on the Sun Grid
Engine Enterprise Edition (SGEEE) software and the industry standard Globus toolkit.
Sun's data grid solutions rely on the Sun StorEdge Open SAN Architecture, the Sun StorEdge 3510 FC array, and Sun StorEdge SAM-FS and QFS software for efficiency and flexibility.
The Sun Fire Compute Grid family couples Sun Fire systems with a choice of interconnect technologies. "This approach provides excellent price-performance with clusters of small systems as well as excellent price/productivity with superclusters that utilise very large memory and simplified programming environments," Dry adds.
Interconnect choices include Gigabit Ethernet switches, Myrinet, Infiniband, Quadrics, or the Sun Fire Link interconnect. Sun's Visual Grid platform is based on the Sun Fire V880z, the XVR-4000 high-speed graphics subsystem, and specialised software based on the OpenGL industry standard.
Sun's Grid Reference Architecture provides a tested, tuned, and documented framework for the deployment of these building blocks. Sun's Customer Ready Systems (CRS) program integrates these building blocks and complementary third-party hardware and software products into ready-to-deploy solutions built in Sun factories based on a customer's specifications. These are supported by a global professional services practice focused on grid deployments.
For more information contact Sun Microsystems SA, 011 256 6300.

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