GOOGLE FOR ‘GRID COMPUTING’, AND THE response comes back with 1.45 million hits in about 0.22 seconds. That’s a large reference set of articles and annotations about Grid from an online library of documents and is being made available to any user with access to Google portal. The virtual resource being used is Google. The interface to Google is intuitively simple. Google runs its search on a huge cluster of Linux boxes1 executing the search in parallel across this bank of computation nodes to respond correctly, quickly and comprehensively to the request. This is a classic example of what virtualization is going to be all about. Grid computing is poised to dramatically change the economics of a computation by drastically lowering costs and extending the availability of huge resources to those with modest budgets.
“Grid” has been synonymous with Utilities. Electrical, gas, water and telecommunication networks are Grids. It is not the utility network that is interesting, it is the service model delivered by very complex operations; the client of these services are provided with an extremely simple interface and are unaware of the technologies delivering the Grid. A consumer of an electric utility is unaware of the source of the power being consumed by him. The appliances connected to the Grid draw power at a constant voltage and phase. It is the responsibility of the Utility Company to manage the generation and transmission. Generators must be brought online and offline without affecting the voltage and the phase, and in resonance with the load on the Grid. When quality of service deteriorates, the gridlock followed by an outage is news.
A computational architecture has never been materialized as a utility Grid until now. Industry trends have now made such a Computational Utility possible and a functional necessity. Global Grid Forum (GGF), standards body for Grid specifications, is driving the evolution of specifications for adoption by applications to harness virtual resources. Blade servers are providing huge computational resource at a very low cost. High bandwidth networks exist and last mile broadband rollouts are around the corner.
With exponential growth in amount of information generated and consumed, the storage is increasing infinitely. The data is no longer directly attached to the information consumption or the generation point. The information never obsoletes, it just morphs into new information. All these trends are driving virtualization of entire computational infrastructures for Utility Computing. This will be the Holy Grail of Computing—complete computational nirvana when information computation at an enterprise level is available as and when one needs it—on demand.
With true Grid Computing, the services provided will be at the level of a Utility. Computation and information will be delivered to the consumer as, when and wherever the client requires it.