Migrating from Grids to Clouds

John Barr (Research Director for Financial Services at 451 Group) published an interesting article yesterday (available to 451 Group subscribers), on Oracle’s migration from Grid’s to clouds. It’s a good summary of the approach that Oracle has used to cloak themselves in some of the current industry terms, evolving from Real Application Clusters, to Oracle Grid, to their new found focus on Cloud.

Based on our activities in the market, John’s article really caught my eye, and I figured it was a good opportunity to provide some additional thoughts and comments based on what we are seeing in the market.

The notion of Grid to Cloud (or whatever the next distributed computing paradigm) is one that we see with our customers as they continue to evolve their infrastructure. As stated in John’s article, many clients view this as a continuum, beginning with their Grid activities and then building on the expertise of the large scale, utility, shared services approach they have developed with their grids to evolve towards a cloud. The additional step most organizations take on this path is the integration of additional automation or virtualization technologies into the mix, to dynamically create and configure the resources in their grid, based on workload demands.

What is really interesting in this evolution is how ‘cloud like’ many of these Grid and HPC customer infrastructures are. Typically these environments, are large scale, shared amongst different users and business units, charged back based on some notion of consumption, and operated in the Google or Amazon like model for efficiency with 1000’s of servers per system administrator. The experience in operating these distributed computing environments (Clusters, Grids) has allowed many F1000 companies across multiple industries to jumpstart their cloud initiatives, providing them internal expertise and technologies that they can build from to broaden the adoption of this commodity shared infrastructure to additional applications and users.

We have shared some of our customer Grid and Cloud stories (like CERN) as we have worked with clients on this evolution and will be providing more examples as we move forward. Hopefully many in the cloud community can get beyond the terminology debate and concentrate on the capabilities and characteristics that make these shared computing environments similar, so that people can learn and build from past experience.