Industry heavyweights Microsoft and IBM are backing a new set of specifications that would allow businesses to share applications and computing resources over the web.
The work would move grid computing, which distributes computing jobs and databases across numerous servers, beyond scientific and technical applications to business applications.
The grid technology, which refers to the numerous devices that share computing resources, such as global file-swapping networks and peer-to-peer networks, is expected to connect PCs in ways that overcome all the bottlenecks and barriers that trouble the web.
At the recent Global Grid Forum in Toronto, Big Blue and Microsoft joined the Globus Project, an effort to write open source grid management software. Globus and IBM will offer specs for the forthcoming version 3.0 of its grid software tools at the Forum.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president of strategy and technology, IBM server group, explained that the new set of specs builds on standards such as XML, Web Services Description Language and Simple Object Access Protocol with the Globus Project-developed standard for grid computing, which are used to locate, schedule and secure computing resources.
"The cost and complexity of managing an enterprise are really out of hand," he said. "The grid protocols allow the sharing of resources and allow us to start building applications more effectively."
Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata, said: "Ebusiness has become not just the heart of information technology, but the beating heart of global business.
"Web services, grid computing and virtualisation are three of the most important techniques taking us to the next step of using the internet as a business computing platform."
Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems, which has its own grid and web services software, announced plans last week to integrate its separately existing Sun One technologies and Sun Grid Engine software to create a more integrated grid computing solution for the business market.
By using the iPlanet Portal Server, the combined forces of Sun One and Sun Grid Engine create one access point for businesses to make computing resources available on demand for employees, partners, suppliers and colleagues.
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