Grid computing looks to have a promising future--if vendors can continue to educate IT departments about its benefits.
To date, few European businesses have implemented grid computing, the practice of linking pools of computers, storage devices and networks to deliver computing power. Organizations often use grids to support an on-demand computing model, in which resources are expanded or reconfigured based on changing business needs.
According to a report from researcher Quocirca, approximately 7 percent of IT staff use grids in some areas, with about another 3 percent planning test programs over the next three months. The report was commissioned by Oracle, a proponent of the grid concept.
However, there's significant work being done in the areas that must precede full adoption of grid computing, including the standardization and consolidation of IT systems. In areas such as e-mail and application servers, more than half of all staff surveyed had taken these preliminary steps.
Dale Vile, service director at Quocirca, says standardization is an important first step. It includes tasks such as getting all systems "onto the same platform and same (software) release," he said.
About one in four IT workers surveyed by Quocirca had at least some familiarity with grid computing.
But if more people learn about the technology, adoption should rise; Quocirca found that those who know about the technology are likely to feel committed to implementing it.
"Education is the biggest issue in this space," Vile said. "What grid does is tackle core day-to-day problems and headaches that IT operations staff are dealing with. It will appeal to them once they know about it."
As for grid's fate in the long term, Vile said: "There's no doubt the whole industry will move toward grid. It won't happen overnight, but gradually."
Grid activity is highest in industries such as financial services, retail, and travel and transportation--areas with large data centers and high volumes of end-user transactions.
Quocirca polled 603 IT managers and executives across a range of industries and European countries.
The full report, titled "Grid Computing in Europe: Laying the Foundations for an Inevitable Shift," is available from Quocirca's Web site.