John Powers, CEO of Digipede, and I had a lovely conversation the other day. Before we could really examine the company's virtualization technology and approach to the market, John mentioned that his company was named Microsoft ISV/Software Solutions Partner of the Year in 2007. When one considers how many ISV partners Microsoft has, that's quite impressive.
Haven't heard of Digipede? I hadn't heard of them either until I had a chance to speak with them about 2 years ago. Here's how the company would describe the Digipede Network:
The Digipede Network"
The Digipede Network" is a distributed computing solution that delivers dramatically improved performance for real-world business applications. Built entirely on the .Microsoft NET platform, it is radically easier to buy, install, learn, and use than other solutions.
The Digipede Network allows you to combine the power of your Microsoft Windows desktops and servers to improve the scalability and speed of your most compute-intensive, transaction-intensive, and data-intensive applications. This powerful software tool parcels out your most complex computing jobs across your network, dynamically allocating the computing power of both dedicated and idle resources.
In short, Digipede has developed technology allowing unused processing cycles of both client systems and servers to be utilized for an organization's computationally intensive applications. The majority of Digipede's customers, however, install this software on server systems. Some acquire new server systems to fully utilize what the Digipede Network can do for them. John Powers suggests that this falls under the "pay more to get more" category.
If used as a way to harvest available computing cycles on both clients and servers, Digipede Network could be thought of as doing something similar to do what the SETI@home project has been doing on the network for a number of years. In a world in which organizations are seeking ways to do more with a smaller IT budget, this approach would allow an organization's previous investment in technology to do more than before possible.
How Does it Work?
Digipede Agents are loaded on each of the systems (client or server) that are to participate in the organization's Grid. The Agent software gathers information about the system and, when the organization's policies dictate and the system has available resources, it asks the Digipede Server to feed it something to do over a .NET network. The Digipede Network includes the following components that aid in creating, submitting, and monitoring jobs: Digipede Control, a browser-based administrative tool; Digipede Workbench, a Smart Client used to define and run jobs; and the Digipede Framework SDK which gives developers the power to grid-enable their applications.
During the review of this post, John suggested the following:
A cycle harvesting grid (or a "pull" system, or an "Agent-based" system, whatever you want to call it) is one of two architectures that have been used for some time -- and not just in SETI@Home type applications, but in commercial systems as well.
Where our system is different is in the tools we give to developers -- Microsoft developers specifically -- to make it easier to build and deploy grid applications than ever before. In my view, this is what has held grid computing back -- it's just been way too hard to adapt applications to run on the grid.
By working exclusively on one platform (in this case, Microsoft Window) we avoid problem of settling for the "least common denominator" of applications that can be run on multiple operating systems. Instead, we integrate with Visual Studio, Excel, SQL Server, Sharepoint, and Compute Cluster Server to help .NET and COM developers build and deploy grid applications as productively as they build and deploy any other kind of applications.
This is a big deal for our customers -- developers are more expensive than hardware, so it's a bigger deal than making use of otherwise unused cycles.
Thanks for the clarification, John.
Should I Care?
If your organization has Windows laptops, desktops or servers that fall idle at certain times of the day or certain days of the week and it has applications that could utilize the computational resources of those machines, your organization would be well advised to learn about Digipede. If your organization has computationally intensive applications and would like to get them done faster, Digipede's impressive software would be of use today.
If neither description fits your organization, it still might be good to know about Digipede. Who knows? Someone in the organization, in a fit of madness, might like to conduct a risk analysis study before investing the company's money in a project!