GRID COMPUTING OR MODULAR
By Paul Krill, Editor at Large, InfoWorld
Call it grid computing. Or modular computing. Or policy-based
computing or utiliy computing. Intel, which is opting for the
modular designation, is preaching distribution of processing power
to boost performance and reliability. Modular computing represents a
new paradigm that requires advances in both software and hardware,
according to Intel. "There (are) a lot of people that associate
modular computing (with) blades and blade form factors. It's
important to know this is far more than form factors and far more
than blades," said Abbi Talwalkar, vice president of the Intel
platform products group, in Hillsboro, Ore., during a presentation
at the Intel Developer Forum.
Modular computing, the joining of multiple computing resources,
is an answer for exponential data growth, application and server
sprawl, and dis- aggregation of storage, according to Intel. The
concept also is critical in today's tough economic times, with IT
cutbacks, Talwalkar said. Modular computing is characterized by a
growth in hardware clustering and distributed computing along with
software developments such as the deployment of application servers
and the use of Web services for intersystem communication, he said.
"It's really advances in system management and clustering technology
that's going to drive much of the adoption here," Talwalkar said.
Clustering might displace large symmetric multiprocessing systems
over time, he said. Automation, enabling for dynamic allocation of
resources, is probably the "heart" of modular computing, according
to Talwalkar. Automation developments are needed such as
self-healing systems, failover, and dynamic performance
optimization, he said.
Benefits of modular computing include maximization, efficiency,
Internet reliability, and seamless and simplified management,
according to the company. For example, modular computing will
maximize use of a server that might have 40 percent of its capacity
not being used, Talwalkar said. "Software is going to drive the
success of modular computing 100 percent," Talwalker stressed.
One IDF attendee, however, criticized Intel for recently backing
away from plans to produce InfiniBand-based hardware. InfiniBand,
said Anil Vasudeva, president and CEO of research firm Imex
Research, of San Jose, is key to making blade servers function
together. InfiniBand is a next-generation switched-fabric I/O
technology. "Intel seems to have done a big boo boo job on that,"
Talwalkar said that given current economics, there were "some
very difficult decisions to make at Intel in terms of productizing
"We're still very much behind the technology," he said.
Intel in June discontinued investment in a host-side piece of
silicon to support InfiniBand, deferring to other companies to
undertake this development, such as IBM, Talwalkar said. But the
company still believes InfiniBand is ideal for low-latency