More than half of companies recently surveyed say they're sharing data using grid-computing techniques, but you may not want to take them at their word -- 20 percent of companies polled by Forrester Research say they're confused about what "grid computing" means.
According to Forrester's online survey of IT executives at 149 large North American companies, 57 percent say they're using grid computing to share data across computers and company sites. Another 53 percent say they're using it in conjunction with back-office software such as databases or other servers. Just a quarter of respondents say they're using grid computing for its invented purpose: To shore up the crunching of scientific or engineering calculations. Nearly half (48 percent) are using it for financial analysis and modeling.
The term in recent years has been slapped on a host of activities that used to be described as distributed computing. That could explain the one-fifth of respondents who say grid computing has "different meanings." Thirty-eight percent say they think grid computing refers to clusters of computers, and 32 percent say it means sharing data across machines. Thirty percent say grid computing means massively parallel processing.
An InformationWeek Research survey of 333 business-technology executives' IT priorities in the second quarter of this year finds lukewarm enthusiasm for the technology. Some 87 percent of respondents say grid computing isn't on their list of projects this year, according to the survey. But the number of companies planning grid projects is growing: 13 percent of respondents are planning work on grid computing this year, up from 8 percent during the second quarter of last year.
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How does your company use grid computing?
Companies rely on grid computing to manage business applications such as SAP, Siebel or a supply-chain app. Financial analysis and boosting numeric processing also are popular uses. Two in five sites that Forrester Research surveyed say grid computing supports an app that needs extra numeric-processing capability, such as a financial-services Web site.