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Telecommunications firms are already starting to wake up to grid for supporting and load balancing their next-generation networks, says Mark Linesch, chair of the standards-setting Global Grid Forum.

And Linesch says manufacturing, aerospace and oil and gas companies will soon embrace grid computing in greater numbers, an idea Insight Research of Boonton, N.J. backs up with estimates that grid computing-related expenditures to jump from $714.9 million in 2005 to $19.2 billion in 2010 in telecommunications alone. 

Despite solid academic pedigree and references from some of the high-tech industry’s biggest vendors, the Globus Consortim may hit some bumps on the road to wider commercial acceptance.

There is at least one potential standing in the way that has done a good job creating fear, uncertainty, and doubt about open source business solutions.

Just as Linux application developers have found Microsoft roadblocks at every turn, it looks as though open source grid computing may face competition from the Redmond behemoth as well.

Ironically, Microsoft provided “substantial funding” to Globus as recently as 2003, says Tuecke, and the software giant was part of the Globus Alliance – predecessors to the Globus Consortium and promoters of the toolkit. 

Microsoft was noticeably absent from the consortium, and is rumored to be working on its own as yet unannounced set of grid computing software tools under a project reportedly code-named Bigtop.

Without commenting on specific plans, Microsoft issued a statement instead that says the company “doesn’t have any specific grid computing plans to discuss at this time…While there is much interest in grid, there’s still much research and investigation needed to ensure the technology is actually focused on addressing important business problems.”

As for Tuecke, he doesn’t deny there may be an opportunity for Microsoft to upset the apple cart of Globus’s open source development – if it can act quickly enough.

“You can’t dismiss Microsoft, they’ll make a difference if they decide to make a difference,” he says. “But in some ways, the train is already leaving the station.”

Regardless of the Microsoft threat, Nawrocki admits that grid computing “needs to get a little more industry hardened, first and foremost…there’s still a lot of outstanding bugs.”

Further, he says that a lot of popular business applications haven’t been adapted to accommodate the decentralized architecture of grid, and there’s still a relative lack of tools that would make monitoring the decentralized and far-flung work on the grid easier to track.

Nawrocki believes, however, that much as a ready application community eventually sprung up around Linux, a cadre of new grid application developers will emerge to help shepherd enterprises on grids.

“I really think, at this point, it has to do with an application disconnect,” Nawrocki says. “Many application developers don’t know what grid is yet.”

If the Globus Consortium succeeds, though, that won’t be a problem much longer.

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