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Issue of June 2005 

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Grid Computing

Grid computing helps make smarter business choices

Newly Paul talks to Gregory Corgan, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales, Computer Associates (CA), to get an insight into CA's take on grid computing.

What does grid computing bring to enterprise IT?

For some, grid computing is all about going outside the enterprise, and tapping into unused capability in order to do complex instruction-laden calculations or applications. Some people take grid computing to mean on demand computing.

We must make infrastructure work, manage service levels and then optimise the service levels back to the business. Once this is done, customers will start adopting grid computing.

Although everyone calls it by different names like on demand computing, P2P and so on, the basic concept remains the same. There are various stages to on demand software that CA handles—virtualisation, servers, storage, and most important, mapping the business process to infrastructure. This helps one to know the kind of applications being used for various business transactions such as billing, entry, and so on. So, it becomes easy to move resources around when additional power is needed. When you are able to move the process and capability around, you can manage your business better and make smarter choices.

However, it will be a while before we get to the point where we can improve our service levels and cut down costs. Nevertheless, we are headed in that direction.

How popular is grid computing?

Grid computing is now taking a plunge, because people are realising that they can't achieve the projected results all at once. Customers think about it in terms of being fully achievable at one go, they do not think about taking the small steps that will ultimately enable them to achieve the final goal.

With the right approach I don't think that grid computing initiatives have reason to fail. Ultimately we shall achieve the targets we have set down.

Are you conducting R&D vis-a-vis grid technology?

Our whole business revolves around R&D. We have to be positioned to do that. This forms a part of what we call business services optimisation. According to our strategy, we must make infrastructure work, manage service levels and then optimise the service levels back to the business. Once this is done, the customer will be into on demand or grid computing. They can map it to the business process, understand available resources and manage these resources to maximise their business processes.

What does it take for an organisation to tap into the benefits of grid computing?

Although we have a lot of the technology related to grid computing in place, it is not completely automated yet. For this, customers first need to discover all their business assets-right from servers, switch, and storage, to buildings. Another thing that needs to be done besides discovering assets is the updating of databases.

What are the biggest challenges related to IT infrastructure while deploying grids?

The most important hurdle related to IT was discovering all the assets of a business. Managing those assets in a single database and mapping the business process to the IT infrastructure were the other important tasks which we had to do in order to implement grid computing in a business process.

Some mistakes I saw were in SAP implementations. They were too complex and too costly and did not have the required milestones on the way.

Grid computing is in its early stages in India and we do not have any customers here yet. We are targeting sectors such as banking and telecom that use a large amount of data and undertake numerous transactions.

The fact remains that only a handful of customers try out these new things. This is because it is still early days for this technology. Like any other new technology, there is a lot of hype around it. But some customers have introduced grid computing in bits and pieces.

Will grids help India Inc.?

Grid computing has more payback in an industry where usage is unpredictable and asset bases are big.

Grid computing will help large enterprises make more productive use of their infrastructure and asset base. It will help them to minimise their expenditure on infrastructure and maximise the service levels they can offer to their customers. Grid computing will also enable companies to judge the resources it needs.

Does the application of grid computing vary from one industry to another?

No, the application of grid computing remains the same even though the industry it is applied to is different. Grid computing has more payback in an industry where usage is unpredictable and asset bases are big. The application of grid computing may also differ from one industry to another, depending on its management. It is all a matter of managing resources as productively as possible, using the appropriate tools.

Is it possible to have a master control interface for grid computing?

It is absolutely essential to do that. According to our strategy we supply our customers with all the parts needed to help them manage their infrastructure. So, we provide everything from asset management, software delivery, and network management, to security capabilities, and storage management. Our plan is to integrate all these services and form one master interface. We shall make a suite strategy, which shall have tools and capabilities in a universal database.

Are there typical mistakes that a CIO can make while employing a new technology?

The biggest mistake is to get involved in the technology, rather than business. The important thing for CIOs is to understand what their business is all about. The technology initiatives that they have should be in place to support the business, but they need to be businesspersons first.

The second thing is that CIOs have to make evolutionary moves. This has to be accompanied by a vision of the aims that the company has to achieve, and a realisation of where the executable chances are.

Newly Paul can be reached at

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