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Opinion: Bring On The Zoom-Zoom

GlobusWorld starts in earnest today in Boston, allowing grid-computing aficionados to debate the technology. Among them is Mazda, which will report on its grid trial with NEC.
Bring on the zoom-zoom. GlobusWorld starts in earnest today in Boston, allowing grid-computing aficionados to debate, discuss and share different approaches to the technology. Among them are Masahiro Yoshioka, assistant manager of Infrastructure System Group at Mazda Motor, and NEC's Yoshiki Seo, senior manager of the computer maker's Grid Promotion Center.

You probably didn't know NEC had a Grid Promotion Center. Or that Mazda put into gear a pilot program to test grid computing in its core IT system. Both items were announced here last fall. But like Mazda's announcement of a brand new rotary engine -- it's called the Renesis and makes its production debut in the 2005 RX-8 -- Mazda's grid announcement came amid a flood of related industry news and was easily overlooked.

But the grid announcement is significant, and the details are worth a closer look: Mazda is incorporating grid technology into its core IT system on a trial basis. The idea is to efficiently utilize its many servers scattered hither and yon, and provide countermeasures in case of disasters. NEC is helping Mazda build and evaluate the system.

The trial is part of a larger economic stimulus project being promoted by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and represents one of the first attempts to use the grid technology in a corporate core system. The grid-computing portion of the project is designed to promote joint development of business grid middleware, global standardization of development results, and the commercialization of business grid through trials linking users, such as Mazda.

The grid project still has many miles to go. While the economic stimulus project began in 2003, it is only in this fiscal year that the requirements of application systems will be defined and job operation procedures will be designed. Only then will the results of the trial will then be used in the construction of an actual grid system.

We wish Mazda and NEC good speed. The commercialization of grid computing could use a little zoom-zoom.