Enterprise Distributed Computing

Vol. 3 No. 6 – July/August 2005

Enterprise Distributed Computing

Articles

Enterprise Grid Computing

I have to admit a great measure of sympathy for the IT populace at large, when it is confronted by the barrage of hype around grid technology, particularly within the enterprise. Individual vendors have attempted to plant their flags in the notionally virgin technological territory and proclaim it as their own, using terms such as grid, autonomic, self-healing, self-managing, adaptive, utility, and so forth. Analysts, well, analyze and try to make sense of it all, and in the process each independently creates his or her own map of this terra incognita, naming it policy-based computing, organic computing, and so on. Unfortunately, this serves only to further muddy the waters for most people. All of these terms capture some aspect of the big picture—they all describe parts of solutions that seek to address essentially the same problems in similar ways—but they’re never quite synonymous.

Enterprise Grid Computing

Grid computing holds great promise for the enterprise data center, but many technical and operational hurdles remain.

PAUL STRONG, SUN MICROSYSTEMS

I have to admit a great measure of sympathy for the IT populace at large, when it is confronted by the barrage of hype around grid technology, particularly within the enterprise. Individual vendors have attempted to plant their flags in the notionally virgin technological territory and proclaim it as their own, using terms such as grid, autonomic, self-healing, self-managing, adaptive, utility, and so forth. Analysts, well, analyze and try to make sense of it all, and in the process each independently creates his or her own map of this terra incognita, naming it policy-based computing, organic computing, and so on. Unfortunately, this serves only to further muddy the waters for most people. All of these terms capture some aspect of the big picture—they all describe parts of solutions that seek to address essentially the same problems in similar ways—but they’re never quite synonymous.

So what is this “grid” stuff really all about? How does it apply to the enterprise data center and why should you care?

by Paul Strong

Curmudgeon

Call That Gibberish

The Ninth World Multiconference SCI (Systematics, Cybernetics, and Informatics) 2005 has attracted more attention than its vaporific title usually merits by accepting a spoof paper from three MIT graduate students. The Times (of London, by default, of course) ran the eye-catching headline, “How gibberish put scientists to shame” (April 6, 2005). One of the students, Jeremy Stribling, explains how they had developed a computer program to generate random sequences of technobabble in order to confirm their suspicions that papers of dubious academicity were bypassing serious, or indeed, any scrutiny. In fact, the students claim ulterior, financial motives behind this lack of proper peer review. The SCI organizers, it is suggested, solicit admissions via substantial e-mail shots and usually charge a fee for accepted papers to be presented at their conference.

Call That Gibberish?

Stan Kelly-Bootle

The Ninth World Multiconference SCI (Systematics, Cybernetics, and Informatics) 2005 has attracted more attention than its vaporific title usually merits by accepting a spoof paper from three MIT graduate students. The Times (of London, by default, of course) ran the eye-catching headline, “How gibberish put scientists to shame” (April 6, 2005). One of the students, Jeremy Stribling, explains how they had developed a computer program to generate random sequences of technobabble in order to confirm their suspicions that papers of dubious academicity were bypassing serious, or indeed, any scrutiny. In fact, the students claim ulterior, financial motives behind this lack of proper peer review. The SCI organizers, it is suggested, solicit admissions via substantial e-mail shots and usually charge a fee for accepted papers to be presented at their conference.

There are many precedents both for computer-generated nonsense and for fooling various academic entities with manually contrived gobbledygook. The former were originally for fun, such as the simple Datamation Jargon Generator, which randomly concatenated several fashionable buzzwords from a standard list. If the object was to shame the marketeers, it has clearly failed. Some linguists suggest that the word system has become grammaticalized1 as a delimiting tag to signal the end of these random strings of jargon. Thus: X is a stable, seamless, portable, multiparadigmatic, polymorphic, user-centric, OS-neutral... executive control language system. The tag persists in other domains, as when “my beliefs” are elevated to “my belief system.”

by Stanley Kelly-Bootle

Articles

Describing the Elephant: The Different Faces of IT as Service

In a well-known fable, a group of blind men are asked to describe an elephant. Each encounters a different part of the animal and, not surprisingly, provides a different description.

We see a similar degree of confusion in the IT industry today, as terms such as service-oriented architecture, grid, utility computing, on-demand, adaptive enterprise, data center automation, and virtualization are bandied about. As when listening to the blind men, it can be difficult to know what reality lies behind the words, whether and how the different pieces fit together, and what we should be doing about the animal(s) that are being described. (Of course, in the case of the blind men, we did not also have marketing departments in the mix!)

Describing the Elephant: The Different Faces of IT as Service

Terms such as grid, on-demand, and service-oriented architecture are mired in confusion, but there is an overarching trend behind them all.

IAN FOSTER, ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY and UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, STEVEN TUECKE, UNIVA

In a well-known fable, a group of blind men are asked to describe an elephant. Each encounters a different part of the animal and, not surprisingly, provides a different description.

We see a similar degree of confusion in the IT industry today, as terms such as service-oriented architecture, grid, utility computing, on-demand, adaptive enterprise, data center automation, and virtualization are bandied about. As when listening to the blind men, it can be difficult to know what reality lies behind the words, whether and how the different pieces fit together, and what we should be doing about the animal(s) that are being described. (Of course, in the case of the blind men, we did not also have marketing departments in the mix!)

by Ian Foster, Steven Tuecke

Enterprise Software as Service

While the practice of outsourcing business functions such as payroll has been around for decades, its realization as online software services has only recently become popular. In the online service model, a provider develops an application and operates the servers that host it. Customers access the application over the Internet using industry-standard browsers or Web services clients. A wide range of online applications, including e-mail, human resources, business analytics, CRM (customer relationship management), and ERP (enterprise resource planning), are available.

Enterprise Software as Service

Online services are changing the nature of software.

DEAN JACOBS, SALESFORCE.COM

While the practice of outsourcing business functions such as payroll has been around for decades, its realization as online software services has only recently become popular. In the online service model, a provider develops an application and operates the servers that host it. Customers access the application over the Internet using industry-standard browsers or Web services clients. A wide range of online applications, including e-mail, human resources, business analytics, CRM (customer relationship management), and ERP (enterprise resource planning), are available.

In the enterprise setting, online services compete with the in-house deployment of packaged software. The primary advantage of the online model, as with any form of outsourcing, is that it aggregates many users and can leverage economies of scale to reduce costs. This principle applies to all aspects of the IT infrastructure, including hardware, software, staffing, and the data center itself.

by Dean Jacobs

Kode Vicious

Kode Vicious Cycles On

Not only does California give you plenty of sun, it also apparently has employers that give you plenty of time to play around with the smaller problems that you like, in a programming language that's irrelevant to the later implementation.

Kode Vicious Cycles On

Summer has descended upon us, in all of its hot and sticky glory. And as one of our readers reminds us, too much sun can produce strange effects in koders (and those who write about koding). To escape this fate, many take refuge indoors, within the cool confines of industrial-grade, high-power air conditioning. But it’s a false haven. It feels great at first, but prolonged exposure can produce deleterious effects, slowing brain activity as workers slowly go all cryogenic. This is disastrous for koders, who suddenly find themselves stumped by the most basic of tasks. Not to worry, though, Kode Vicious knows this feeling and can administer his unique brand of brain-thawing wisdom to the afflicted. It’s sure to knock you right out of your frozen stupor. Contact him at kv@acmqueue.com... and turn that darn AC down!

Kode Vicious received mucho feedback on his “Kode Vicious Reloaded” column, published back in March. In particular, many were concerned with KV’s advice to Driven to Abstraction. What follows is a handful of these letters and KV’s responses to them.

by George Neville-Neil

Interviews

A Conversation with David Anderson

A Conversation with David Anderson

It’s supercomputing on the grassroots level—millions of PCs on desktops at home helping to solve some of the world’s most compute-intensive scientific problems. And it’s an all-volunteer force of PC users, who, with very little effort, can contribute much-needed PC muscle to the scientific and academic communities.

A Conversation with David Anderson

It’s supercomputing on the grassroots level—millions of PCs on desktops at home helping to solve some of the world’s most compute-intensive scientific problems. And it’s an all-volunteer force of PC users, who, with very little effort, can contribute much-needed PC muscle to the scientific and academic communities.

Articles

Web Services and IT Management

Web services aren't just for application integration anymore.

Platform and programming language independence, coupled with industry momentum, has made Web services the technology of choice for most enterprise integration projects. Their close relationship with SOA (service-oriented architecture) has also helped them gain mindshare. Consider this definition of SOA: "An architectural style whose goal is to achieve loose coupling among interacting software agents. A service is a unit of work done by a service provider to achieve desired end results for a service consumer. Both provider and consumer are roles played by software agents on behalf of their owners." Although SOA doesn't mandate Web services, its emphasis on loose coupling requires use of something with the characteristics of Web services.

by Pankaj Kumar