Service-Oriented Science

This week, Science publishes an article by Ian Foster on the future and the impact of the "service orientation" for infrastructure and applications.

Link: Service-Oriented Science -- Foster 308 (5723): 814 -- Science.

New information architectures enable new approaches to publishing and accessing valuable data and programs. So-called service-oriented architectures define standard interfaces and protocols that allow developers to encapsulate information tools as services that clients can access without knowledge of, or control over, their internal workings. Thus, tools formerly accessible only to the specialist can be made available to all; previously manual data-processing and analysis tasks can be automated by having services access services. Such service-oriented approaches to science are already being applied successfully, in some cases at substantial scales, but much more effort is required before these approaches are applied routinely across many disciplines. Grid technologies can accelerate the development and adoption of service-oriented science by enabling a separation of concerns between discipline-specific content and domain-independent software and hardware infrastructure.


Platform, Macrovision Announce Grid Licensing Solution

Along with the management of infrastructure resources -- a virtualization of compute, storage and communication resources -- there's clearly a big issue involving the management and optimal use of the application software resources for which the IT organization has licenses.

This is an interesting offering which, if both functional and performant, will start to challenge the licensing (or, rather, the pricing) models by application SW vendors and those who provide application platforms.

Link: Platform, Macrovision Announce Grid Licensing Solution.

Platform Computing and Macrovision Corp. announced a new solution aimed at dynamic and intelligent license optimization in Grid computing environments. Platform and Macrovision are working together to deliver a complete solution for optimizing license scheduling within an enterprise, removing a key barrier to widespread Grid adoption and ultimately helping companies maximize the value of their software.

The solution is a direct result of keen customer interest in a comprehensive license management system that makes Grid implementation possible for a wider range of enterprise environments. The integration of Platform and Macrovision's products enables the highest degree of dynamic license management and policy-based control ensuring optimal license utilization and effective usage reporting and analytics. Developed through the long-standing relationship between the two companies, the solution will consist of Platform LSF License Scheduler and Platform LSF Analytics products, integrated with Macrovision's FLEXnet Manager product through the just announced FLEXnet Connector (please see "Platform, Macrovision Optimize Grid Software Licensing" in June 20 issue of GRIDtoday).


Cisco's Application-Oriented Networking

It seems to me that the examples provided by Cisco by which to offer up the value of AON are a bit lame. The article does point out that customers don't quite get it yet, and that the use of XML-based messaging seems (in their minds) to be of equivalent value as that provided by (usually proprietary) middleware.

What puzzles me (and which might be made clearer if I had more insight into what functionality AON does and does not provide) is the emphasis on making the network "aware" of the application and it's requirements, rather than the inverse -- making the application aware of the network, its status and how best to modify application behavior or direct the network "from above."

Link: InformationWeek > Application-Oriented Networking > Can Cisco Sell Its Smarter-Network Vision? > June 24, 2005.

... Still, the vendor has some convincing to do. "Cisco is taking a big risk, because it has yet to see whether companies are ready to put their applications on [an AON] network," says Ken Presti, an analyst at research firm IDC.

An AON-enabled network could recognize sensitive data and add security features to it, Cisco officials explain. Or it could view the contents of a purchase order in transit and ensure that it reaches its correct destination. Today, such functions typically are handled by middleware.

"AON will add a level of intelligence that will allow the network to understand the information coming from applications, as well as perform various functions on the information," Chambers says.

Yet some customers attending Cisco's Networkers 2005 user conference earlier this week said they don't quite understand the technology. Others, while finding the technology interesting, think it could be years before it's applicable to their companies.

"Our network is still going through changes, and we're not completely converged yet, so I'm still not exactly sure where [AON] would fit into our business," says Eddy Youkhanna, manager of global network architecture and engineering at financial-services firm Marsh & McLennan Cos., which is a Cisco customer. Cisco AON appears to be geared toward service providers that heavily rely on XML as a messaging protocol, something not widely used at Marsh, Youkhanna says. Cisco is betting the value of its technology will become clearer. BT Radianz, which provides network services to traders and brokers, is an early AON tester, building a service based on the technology that will give customers more detailed views of their transactions. "What traders want to know is not how long bits take to get across the wire, but how long it takes for an order to get to a broker and for [a broker] to acknowledge the order and respond," BT Radianz CTO Brenna Carley says.

A handful of smaller vendors sell application-aware networks, including Ciena, DataPower Technology, and NetScaler, with varying approaches. If Cisco's technology succeeds, analyst Presti says, it will help validate the concept.


Levanta puts Linux management in a box

Another entry into the "next gen data center management" appliances, this time one that targets the small and medium sized company with a gaggle of linux boxes.  It would seem most appropriate that this kind of appliance be capable of managing operating system environments beyond linux.

Link: Levanta puts Linux management in a box.

Levanta's Intrepid M appliance is loaded with the company's software that helps customers manage multiple servers from a single location.

The appliance is designed for small to midsize companies or to manage specific network segments.

Once plugged into the network systems, administrators can use Intrepid M templates to provision new servers, move operating systems off one box onto another and manage multiple Linux machines. When Intrepid M provisions a new machine, it also installs a Linux kernel on the server so that it can perform ongoing management and track changes made to the system.

Levanta competes with Altiris, BladeLogic, Novadigm (now part of HP) and Opsware with its server provisioning and management


Cisco Rolls Out XML-Aware Network Architecture

This is important.  If one is interested in offering up some (limited) management control of the communication infrastructure to applications or to datacenter management platforms, it's great to offer them up as services (as in "Web services").  In so doing, one is creating a Service Oriented Infrastructure (SOI).

For us at Univa, the barriers to integrating our Grid infrastructure with the communication resources of an IT organization may have just become MUCH easier.   I'm looking forward to finding out a lot more about AON.

Link: InformationWeek > Networking > Cisco Rolls Out XML-Aware Network Architecture > June 21, 2005.

Cisco today unveiled its new Application-Oriented Networking (AON) architecture, designed to bring XML security and management to enterprise networks.

AON was developed in response to solve the increasingly difficult integration problems that enterprises face. By creating a network architecture intelligent enough to understand XML, Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs) and the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), Cisco is trying to create a holy grail of sorts for network managers -- the ability not only to integrate applications, but to embed that integration directly into the network.