Grid and SOA

Phil Wainewright wrote recently:

Grid and SOA are going to be on something of a collision course if enterprises embrace both simultaneously. At first glance, that seems like a counter-intuitive statement. Aren’t grid and SOA both aiming to do the same kind of thing? Well, yes … and no. SOA aims to create a unified loosely coupled software architecture in which resources can be plugged in and out at will. Grid aims to do much the same in hardware, except that being hardware, most commercial implementations tend to prefer tight coupling wherever possible, because that allows them to squeeze higher performance out of the environment.

The vision being sold to enterprises, then, is of a homogenized IT infrastructure providing computing resources on demand to power the on-demand applcation infrastructure of SOA. Armed with this vision, systems vendors are fully geared up to sell a new generation of grid-capable hardware and systems software that of course forces their customers to accept vendor lock-in in order to realize the economies of tightly-coupled scale and efficiency that they claim will come from adopting the grid approach.

What they won’t tell you is that adopting an SOA can help you realize much greater efficiencies in resource utilization without having to buy any new equipment at all. SOA doesn’t need grid it virtualizes all resources within the IT infrastructure anyway, irrespective of whether they’re hardware or software resources. It’s just a matter of how granular you want to make your service definitions.

Grid has its place in an SOA, to power those resources that will benefit from a highly integrated distributed computing infrastructure. But to position grid as the ideal platform for SOA is asking too much of grid and too little of SOA. Grid technology today as offered by commercial systems vendors is still too monolithic and platform-centric to offer the kind of flexibility that prompts enterprises to sign up to SOA. Grid solutions are well worth investigating to improve the efficiency of existing data centers, but any vendor who suggests consolidating from multiple platforms into their proprietary grid solution to power an SOA is probably more interested in lining their own pockets than advancing their customer’s SOA implementation.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.