24/01/2006 - 21:00

Plan to plug WA into grid

24/01/2006 - 21:00

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Perth businessman Ken Grogan has some big ideas about Western Australia’s potential to become a global leader in IT infrastructure using a so-called ‘grid computing’ model already proven in Germany.

Plan to plug WA into grid

Perth businessman Ken Grogan has some big ideas about Western Australia’s potential to become a global leader in IT infrastructure using a so-called ‘grid computing’ model already proven in Germany.

As someone who describes himself as a “catalyst” for development in the area, Mr Grogan is trying to convince state and Federal governments of the need to invest in the IT architecture required for WA to join what he believes will be a major growth opportunity.

Touted as the next internet revolution by proponents of the model, grid computing offers users shared access to underlying resources within the network, unlike the World Wide Web, which simply offers information through hypertext mark up language (html). Groups such as IBM have a long history with the technology.

One application of grid computing is shared processing power, which can be pooled throughout the network when member computer processors are left idle.

Mr Grogan believes a grid similar to that established in 2003 in Germany called the Deutsche Grid, or D-Grid, could be a worthwhile venture for WA for several reasons.

One benefit, he says, is the model could help the state’s chances of winning the $1.7 billion Square Kilometre Array Telescope project proposed for regional WA.

If successful in tendering for the project, construction is expected to commence in 2012.

The way it would work, Mr Grogan said, is local companies could plug their computing networks into the WA grid, gaining benefits such as data security, shared processing power and other computing resources.

Processing power could eventually be traded, according to Mr Grogan, with markets being set up similar to electricity markets for groups involved in serious number-crunching.

The market for this tradeable commodity is global, he says.

“If you don’t own a super computer, then why not tap into grid computing,” he said.

“But if we are going to pull this off we need to have governments involved.”

Although he hadn’t conducted a detailed study of the likely cost of such a plan, Mr Grogan said it could be quite inexpensive.

For instance, Germany’s D-Grid minimises its costs by way of a cooperative model, he said.

“If you had the right software and hardware developers putting it together, then you could do it relatively cheaply,” he said.

“A lot of the tools are freely available, it just depends what angle you want to take.”

From a background in osteopathy, Mr Grogan has been involved in computing over the past five years, and runs a small group called Virtual Local Group trading under a registered Australian Business Number.

He says he is approaching industry representatives within Bentley’s Technology Park and the Department of Industry and Resources to support the plan.

“DoIR has been most helpful,” he said.

He said he had also approached Senator Alan Eggleston, with strong initial support.

“If we say we want to be a part of this, then we can be a leader in this area,” Mr Grogan said.

There would also be a need to regulate the network since it could leave the technology open to abuse, providing another reason for government involvement, Mr Grogan said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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