Politics, not Technology, is Biggest Barrier to Grid Computing

Organizational turf wars and other political issues are as significant a challenge to the adoption of grid computing as are technical issues, according to a new survey.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents to the study believed that internal politics, such as ‘server hugging’, create significant barriers to widespread grid adoption.

The study, comissioned by Toronto-based grid software vendor Platform Computing, surveyed 50 global companies that have either implemented or are evaluating Grid computing technology.

“Organizations should care about service levels, not about which servers they own,” says Thomas Bittman, an analyst at Gartner. “In many companies, organizational or culture issues are keeping companies from becoming more efficient. We need to remove the perception of the application being directly linked to the box — as we move to virtualized and Grid environments, people need to adapt.”

According to survey respondents, the top non-technical obstacles (ranked “high” or “very high”) to Grid computing include:

* Perceived loss of control or access to resources (44%);

* Perceived risks associated with enterprise-wide deployment (40%);

* Perceived loss or reduction of budget dollars (33%).

Survey participants were optimistic about being able to overcome these obstacles, however. The key is making the strategic value of Grid computing clear to senior executives. The study suggests that there is a misalignment of corporate and IT objectives relating to strategic IT decisions. While CEOs measure success based on objectives like improving operational efficiency and launching new products to market faster, some individual departments are measuring success based on size of corporate IT resources and budget.

“Defining ownership among groups internally, allaying security concerns and identifying the who and how of supporting an enterprise Grid are significant obstacles to effective implementation,” said Don Zhao, senior enterprise IS architect at pharmaceutical giant Aventis. “The concepts of collaborating and sharing computing resources in enterprises also require some behavioral changes.

“There are non-technical barriers to Grid, but they are not insurmountable”, said Clive Dawson, Manager, Systems Engineering, AMD. “The increased efficiency and better use of computing resources that can result from Grid computing more than outweigh the challenge of overcoming organizational obstacles.”