GRID COMPUTING · Departmental grid pilot of 450 nodes will expand companywide to 3,000 nodes by year-end
By Salvatore Salamone
March 8, 2005 | Johnson & Johnson is expanding its R&D computational grid efforts from discrete departmental projects into a companywide initiative.
This new initiative is a major expansion of the company's grid work. For about two years, European and U.S. departments within J&J Pharmaceutical Research & Development (J&JPRD) have used computational grids based on United Devices Grid MP technology. These research efforts were independent of each other.
The new effort is for the deployment of a single global grid that will host many applications, be centrally managed, and be offered to researchers as a service.
"One business driver [for the grid] is to get maximum use of our current computers," says David Neilson, senior director, J&JPRD IM (information management). The system would tap the unused processing power of desktop PCs and some Linux clusters.
Neilson notes that the grid is still in the ramp-up stage and will go from about 450 nodes to 3,000 nodes by the third or fourth quarter of this year.
|J&J Pharma R&D's grid, once fully deployed, will allow researchers to submit computational jobs that will run on desktop PCs and clusters throughout the company.
The new initiative "will make applications available to multiple business units and multiple geographies," says Ben Rouse, United Devices' CEO. He notes that for the past year United Devices has been working in a partnership arrangement with J&JPRD, developing high-level management systems that would help run this global grid.
For example, the two companies worked on a capacity-management application to give J&JPRD insight into the grid's operations. Using this application, administrators can look at grid utilization and define and measure service-level agreements.
Job scheduling was the other area addressed. From a scheduling point of view, there was a desire to develop a more sophisticated tool than what was available. Here, United Devices enhanced its existing offerings to give J&JPRD a unified job scheduler system that runs on top of local job schedulers. The scheduler can take a high-priority job and, for example, switch it over to a high-performance cluster as that cluster becomes available.
The enhanced management tools are also seen as the key to future use of the grid. "We're asking [ourselves] how might we provide service offerings around this [grid]," Neilson says. "We work with lots of sites and departments, all of which have business leaders we have to satisfy."