Friday, May 18, 2007

Grids Mean Business @ OGF 20, Manchester

Well, what a week it was. The OGF 20 meeting in Manchester last week created a new indoor/outdoor world record for attendance of more than 900 people, beating the previous record held by Edinburgh for OGF 5 early in the century. There were some real highlights for me in the Grids Mean Business Track, details of the programme can be found here
The conference opened on Tuesday with an excellent presentation from Tony Hey, Corporate VP of Technical Computing, Microsoft on the potential for web services to simplify demands on the underlying infrastructure and a call to action to take the user perspective of the requirements, top down, rather than invent the all encompassing infrastructure bottom up. In reality, the business agenda is being driven this way with people answering the challenges they face day to day using the available tools and technologies without much interest in standards activity. The only area where standards are particularly of interest right not is in the area of API's for middleware, where the current vendors have a lockout situation which is not in the long term interests of their customers.
The Grids Mean Business track (GMB) opened with Paul Strong of e-Bay and his usual tour de force, describing what it takes to deliver a business infrastructure serving 233 million users; 6 million product additions a day each of which is touched on average 6 times during their lifespan. He also described in some detail the processes that e-Bay use to roll their infrastructure on a two weekly basis, and I was particularly struck by their data management strategies which, apart from managing the huge scale of data employed, enable their indexes to be updated within a few seconds on a global basis. Paul did us an huge favour ahead of the event by being interviewed quite widely by the industry press so you will find plenty of sources of his business through a Google search.
The GMB sessions developed the themes of Paths for Adoption; Grid Markets and Service Delivery; Scaling Up; Collaboration and a couple of workshops on Security and Software Licensing. These sessions were all very well attended and featured many of the people who have contributed to the initial success of the Grid Computing Now Knowledge Transfer Networks.
But there were some very special contributions in the sessions on Grid Markets and on Scaling up. Chris Swann, Credit Suisse, talked compellingly about the potential for a market utility for computing capacity, his model provides for a trading Buy/Offer model, based on clearer understanding of resource requirements and scheduling set against the demand on capacity. Andrew Dolan of CitiGroup talked about the evolution of the Citi grid network and the practical challenges of implementing or evolving grid infrastructures. What's common here is the increasing scale and acceptance at all levels in these businesses of the contribution and importance of grid to future business. Take a look through the presentations, I am sure you'll find much of interest. As always, there is more about many of these cases on the GCN website.



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