Worlds collide: Web services framework for grid

REVISED 2-13-2004 A British technology center is building a new kind of framework to join the new worlds of grid computing and Web services.

The Grid Application Framework, called WS-GAF, could bring commercial Web services software to grid networkers, said Paul Watson, a professor of computing science at the University of Newcastle and a co-developer of the framework.

The framework sprang from a report released last August by the U.K. North East Regional e-Science Centre and middleware provider Arjuna Technologies Ltd. of Newcastle upon Tyne. The U.K. Department of Trade and Industry and the Physical Sciences Research Council fund the e-Science Centre at Newcastle.

The report recommended building grid applications from existing Web services software, rather than coding especially for a grid framework, Watson said. Web services can cut costs of developing grid applications as well as tap into a growing body of expertise, he said.

Using Web services for grid computing networks could bring many benefits, said Ian Foster, who heads the Distributed Systems Lab at the Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Foster spoke by teleconference at a grid computing conference sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

Foster is a member of the Globus Alliance of grid software developers. Last month the alliance, along with IBM Corp., also released a set of grid computer and Web services interoperability specifications, called the Web Service-Resource Framework. Watson said WS-RF has goals similar to WS-GAF's.

IT vendors such as IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are 'rallying around Web services as an important mechanism for creating distributed systems,' Foster said. 'Web services facilitate a service-oriented view of the world, in which individual resource providers can stand up access to specialized data sets or specialized computational procedures. They let us move toward a world where services can be defined easily, described in uniform ways and linked together to create even more sophisticated capabilities.'

The framework group is trying to define Web services-grid interoperability and exploring possible use on existing grid projects. The North East Regional e-Science Centre is involved in 12 grid projects funded by government and industry, Watson said.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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