IBM and the Globus Project, a multi-institutional research and development effort, have introduced the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA), a set of specifications and standards that combine the benefits of grid computing and Web services. The new set of specifications builds on Web standards including XML, WDSL and SOAP, along with Globus Project-developed standards for grid computing which are used to locate, schedule and secure computing resources. According to IBM and the Globus Project, OGSA-enabled solutions will enable businesses and other users to access and share computing resources including applications, data and processing power, on demand over the Internet. IBM plans to leverage OGSA as a key foundation in its eLiza initiative to build an open, heterogeneous and self-managing infrastructure for ebusiness and commercial grid implementations. In a separate statement, IBM announced new software, storage and servers for grid computing, as well as plans to grid-enable its entire product portfolio. Included in the announcement were plans to use IBM WebSphere as a reference application for OGSA standards, to provide the Globus Toolkit for grid implementations on each of IBM’s server platforms, to provide grid management solutions for Tivoli solutions including security, performance, operations and storage management, and to support grid implementations through IBM’s TotalStorage and Global Services organizations. No timeline or pricing details were included in either announcement.
While most of the technology world has been embroiled debating the potential benefits (and faults) of Microsoft’s (.NET) and Sun’s (SunONE) high profile Web services plays, the somewhat esoteric subject of grid computing has attracted less scrutiny. Simply put, grid computing is the plumbing that will allow a business to leverage all of its computing resources, from the desktop to the mainframe and every bit of data in between, across a single, fully integrated and interconnected infrastructure and the Internet. Sounds too cool and complicated to be true, right? Maybe. The benefits offered by the grid model are both obvious and sublime, as are its complexities. While there has been a great deal of talking regarding grid from vendors including IBM, Compaq and Sun, actual deployments have to date been seen largely in university and research lab environments that are relatively easy to isolate and control. Real world computing, like real life, is a messy business, and though hardware vendors recognize the inherent power in being the plumber of record for grid-enabled customers, tangible progress has been slow in coming.
Enter IBM, whose continuing evolution as a business infrastructure leader, along with the company’s eLiza initiative to develop increasingly autonomic computing environments, seem to be made for grid deployments. In all, we see the IBM/Globus announcement as evidence of IBM’s plan to play its game in measurable stages, driving grid from a standards and architectural basis that will pay long, substantial dividends. The company’s announced intentions to develop grid solutions across its entire product and service architecture emphasizes the notion that IBM is moving methodically rather than looking for a quick payout. That strategy plays to the company’s advantage, since while IBM’s WebSphere and higher end servers may be nearly ready for grid primetime, some of its lower end products, storage and Tivoli software solutions are works in progress. Overall, we see these announcements as offering generally good news for businesses, specifically strong evidence of IBM’s long-term intentions and intentionally a challenge to other vendors with grid aspirations.
Verisign has announced that it will make available its portfolio of security services for Web Services. The new offering is branded as the Digital Trust Services Framework and is positioned at customers who want to enable trusted Web services and ebusiness applications. Additionally the company announced Web services partnerships including BEA, HP, Oracle, Sun, IBM and webMethods. Lastly, Verisign is providing open APIs, developer tools, and a flexible service provider platform so that VARs and SIs will be able to leverage the offering to create value-added services.
Verisign’s initiative is certainly expansive in scope, but the proof will be in the company’s execution. In developing an API suite and partnerships with some of the leading Web services vendors, Verisign has taken its technology and created a set of services that is beneficial to both enterprise customers and the community of Web Services, VARs and SIs. Since the events of September 11, concerns over security and disaster tolerance have taken on a new meaning, which provides Verisign an opportunity to capitalize on a potential windfall and make its security solutions ever more ubiquitous. Even so, protection of one's digital identity is and of itself is not a bad thing in our view. More importantly, given the competitive nature of the firms joining Verisign's campaign, we are perhaps seeing an understanding by those companies that protecting ones’ Web identity is an issue to be dealt with head-on. Finally, since Microsoft, for one, has admitted that many of the Web services platform providers do not have robust security/trust services in place, this offering may just be the right bowl of porridge to offer hungry consumers who are also a bit nervous about the bears sharing the table.
In the end, Verisign’s attempt to be the ubiquitous provider of certificates in this nascent and fast-growing market is nothing short of good marketing, but its success will need to be earned. However, by providing both a service provider platform and product options, users, developers, and integrators alike may be able to find a Verisign solution that is not too hot or too cold, but just about right for their needs.
IBM has introduced the new eServer zSeries 800, an entry-class addition to its mainframe product line. The z800 offers IBM mainframe solutions including Parallel Sysplex clustering to support business continuity and z/VM virtualization technologies that allows users to consolidate from twenty to hundreds of servers onto a single box. In addition, IBM introduced z/OS.e, a specially priced zSeries 64-bit operating system designed specifically to support ebusiness applications including WebSphere, DB2, Java JDK and MQSeries. The z800 is available from one-way to four-way, can run multiple types of workloads including zSeries and Linux applications, comes standard with 8 GB of central memory which can be upgraded to 16 GB, 24 GB or 32 GB, and supports up to 240 ESCON channels. The z800 supports zOS (including z/OS.e), z/VM, OS/390, VM/ESA, VSE/ESA, and Linux for the zSeries and s/390. IBM is offering customers a packaged z800 and storage solution including IBM DAS (Shark) and/or tape options, as well as technology upgrade options. The IBM eServer zSeries 800 will be available on March 29, 2002 with a base price of $375,000, including three years of maintenance.
Whether you refer to the z800 an entry-level mainframe, a mainframe “lite” or a Mini-Me mainframe (w/apologies to Austin Powers), the machine marks a new direction for IBM’s most recognizable product line. Since it is probably best known as the company that provides big iron to big enterprises, what is IBM up to with the z800? Two things, we believe: one strategic and the other tactical. From a strategic standpoint, the z800 represents a hardware variation in the company’s long standing eLiza initiative, which is consciously migrating mainframe-style self-managing and self-healing solutions down through the company’s other server product lines. In a sense, the z800 provides the next logical step, delivering mainframe stability and reliability to smaller fry businesses in an affordably priced (compared to other zSeries products) machine geared (via the new z/OS.e) to Web-enabled business applications and tasks. From a tactical standpoint, the z800 allows IBM to offer new sets and classes of customers the capability of simplifying business computing requirements by consolidating multiple Sun and Intel servers into a single box. While $375,000 may not sound cheap up front, the amount begins to shrink when one considers the service and management costs involved in maintaining scores or even hundreds of servers over the long term. In all, we believe the z800 offers evidence of IBM’s willingness to continually reinvent itself and its most sacrosanct products to take advantage of emerging market trends. That attitude is likely to please IBM’s customers, and make the company’s competitors a bit defensive.
The Sageza Group, Inc.
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