Would you believe me if I told you the emergent architecture is grid computing? Or would it sound too much like the latest version of bubble-memory-based supercomputers in every pot?
I like to think that I am, simultaneously, not only skeptical of wild new proclamations of spectacular breakthroughs but also not jaded enough to be completely close-minded. And I'd be pretty darned skeptical of the whole story if all this had come from the mouth of the hypertalkative person in the seat next to me on my last plane trip who was introducing himself and trying to shake my hand while I was putting my suitcase in the overhead and who kept talking as I got off the plane and went into the nearest rest room as he handed me a paper towel and who didn't shut up until I shut the taxi door in his face (where do these people come from?). But no, my source for this and a lot of similarly optimistic discussions of the grid philosophy was not some traveling lunatic--rather, it was a reseller partner of Oracle, and his general impressions were endorsed with great enthusiasm and real-world clarity by two of Oracle's customers moving toward the grid.
In addition, Oracle itself is remarkably bullish on the technology--so much so that it's shifting the letter used in the names of its database products from "i" (e.g., Oracle 8i, 9i, etc.) to "g" in the forthcoming release of 10g. That naming convention shouldn't be taken to mean more than it's supposed to; on the other hand, Oracle didn't make this decision lightly.
Oracle customer Frederick Limp, a professor in the Geosciences and Environmental Dynamics department at the University of Arkansas, added this enthusiastic perspective: "When Oracle got behind grid," he said, "I thought it was like the move from Mosaic to Netscape." And the result, he said, is that grid computing has reached a "tipping point of acceptance" among large organizations whose databases must handle huge files from disparate sources and whose underlying architectures must be secure, scalable, and increasingly cost-effective.
Now, we're all old enough to recall some of the overhyped next-ware can't-miss silver bullets that somehow turned out to be more like tinfoil. But grid computing seems to be racking up some numbers that can no longer be ignored.
Editor in Chief