S'pore: Grid showcase to drive adoption in Asia

Sun, Oracle and AMD join hands to take grid computing from the realms of academia to business.

SINGAPORE--Sun Microsystems, Oracle and AMD have unveiled a grid applications showcase in the island-state, in a bid to drive regional adoption of the technology.

The Business Grid technology showcase, which includes Oracle 10g infrastructure software running on Sun's AMD Opteron-based servers, is housed at the Sun Solution Center in Singapore. The aim: to demonstrate the benefits of grid computing to independent software vendors (ISVs) and businesses.

Said Lee Hock Soon, partner development manager at Oracle Asia-Pacific: "We want to prove that grid is for everybody, and that it is doable and blends into your business environment."

Grid computing describes the ways to make several machines work together to efficiently tackle computing jobs. The main benefit of grids is to allow multiple applications to share otherwise separate or spare resources by assigning priorities. According to an IDC report last year, the global grid market will be worth about US$12 billion by 2007.

For a start, Singapore-based ISVs Alpsoft and Y3 Technologies will showcase their wares in areas like geographical information systems and warehouse management, based on grid computing. "The showcase is a demonstration of real commercial off-the-shelf software and hardware running in a grid environment," Lee said.

This initiative is not the first time the trio is promoting grid computing. About 18 months ago, they embarked on road shows to encourage ISVs to harness grid computing across Asia, said Tan Kwang Meng, Sun's director for partners and alliances in South Asia. "That wave was quite successful and customers are now asking for [grid computing] applications," he said.

ISVs interested in seeing how their applications would work in a grid environment can make use of equipment at the Sun Solution Center. However, Tan said developers have to undergo a qualification process to showcase their goods. "They will [need to] demonstrate the ability to solve business problems."

As part of the grid computing push, the three companies hope that the showcase will move the technology beyond its "early-adopter" phase. For example, Tan said, Y3 and Alpsoft "did not spend many nights burning the midnight oil" trying to port their existing applications to a grid environment.

This is because ISVs are not required to rewrite their applications in the Oracle 10g computing grid, said Barry Matthews, senior manager for database server business development at Oracle Asia-Pacific.

The companies also hope the showcase will dispel myths that grid computing is complex and expensive. Tan said most customers do not realize they have excess computing assets that can be fully utilized with grid computing. With "a bit of effort", he said, businesses--including smaller ones--can easily move to grid computing.

For example, Matthews explained, SMBs only need small dual-processor systems with application and database servers, as well as shared storage, to build a small grid. "We have very small organizations in Australia building very small grids for about US$150,000," he noted.

Lee said there are plans to replicate the grid showcase in the region. The trio is interested in collaborating with a Thai university, as well as exploring the possibility of having a similar setup in Malaysia to address the needs of the country's manufacturing hub in Penang.

Besides the trio, Microsoft and IBM are also reportedly eyeing the same pie.