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Grid computing

Grid computing offers a model for solving massive computational problems using large numbers of computers arranged as clusters embedded in a distributed telecommunications infrastructure. Grid computing's focus on the ability to support computation across administrative domains sets it apart from traditional distributed computing.

Grid computing has the design goal of solving problems too big for any single supercomputer, whilst retaining the flexibility to work on multiple smaller problems. Thus grid computing provides a multi-user environment.

This implies the use of secure authorization techniques to allow remote users to control computing resource s.

Grid computing involves sharing heterogenous resources (based on different platforms, hardware/software architectures, and computer languages), located in different places belonging to different administrative domains over a network using open standards. In short, it involves virtualizing computing resources.

Functionally, one can classify grids as:

The Global Grid Forum (GGF) has the purpose of defining specifications for grid computing. The Globus Alliance implements these standards through the Globus Toolkit, which has become the de facto standard for grid middleware. As a middleware component, it provides a standard platform for services to build upon, but grid computing needs other components as well, and many other tools operate to support a successful Grid environment. This situation resembles that of TCP/IP: the usefulness of the Internet emerged both from the success of TCP/IP and the establishment of applications such as newsgroups and webpages.

Globus has implementations of the GGF-defined protocols to provide:

  1. Resource management: Grid Resource Allocation & Management Protocol (GRAM )
  2. Information Services: Monitoring and Discovery Service (MDS)
  3. Security Services: Grid Security Infrastructure (GSI)
  4. Data Movement and Management: Global Access to Secondary Storage (GASS ) and GridFTP

A number of tools function along with Globus to make grid computing a more robust platform, useful to high-performance computing communities. They include:

  • Grid Portal Software such as GridPort and OGCE
  • Grid Packaging Toolkit (GPT)
  • MPICH-G2 (Grid Enabled MPI)
  • Network Weather Service (NWS) (Quality-of-Service monitoring and statistics)
  • Condor (CPU Cycle Scavenging) and Condor-G (Job Submission)

Most of the grids which span research and academic communities in North America and Europe utilise the Globus Toolkit as their core middleware.

XML-based web services offer a way for accessing diverse services/applications in a distributed environment. As of 2003 the worlds of grid computing and of web services have started to converge to offer Grid as a web service (Grid Service). The Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) has defined this environment, which will offer several functionalities adhering to the semantics of the Grid Service.

Grids offer a way to solve Grand Challenge problems like protein folding, financial modelling, earthquake simulation, climate/weather modelling etc. Grids offer a way of using the information technology resources optimally in an organisation. They also provide a means for offering information technology as a utility bureau for commercial and non-commercial clients, with those clients paying only for what they use, as with electricity or water.

See also


  • Ian Foster , Carl Kesselman : The Grid: Blueprint for a New Computing Infrastructure, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, ISBN 1558604758, Website
  • Fran Berman , Anthony J. G. Hey , Geoffrey Fox : Grid Computing: Making The Global Infrastructure a Reality, Wiley, ISBN 0470853190, Online version

External links

  • News
    • IEEE Distributed Systems Online, Grid Computing Section
    • Grid Today
  • Network
    • The Globus Alliance
    • Global Grid Forum
    • ApGrid: Asia Pacific Grid
    • EU DataGrid project
    • Enabling Grids for E-science in Europe (EGEE)
    • ThaiGrid
    • NorduGrid
  • Portal
    • DataSynapse
    • IBM Grid Computing website
  • Article
    • O'Reilly article about grid computing software
  • Tools
    • Globus Toolkit
    • GridForge
    • ProActive is a Java library for parallel, distributed, and concurrent computing with mobility and security
    • Grid Engine , open source grid engine sponsored by Sun Microsystems, runs on many platforms
    • Apple Xgrid , an easy-to-setup grid solution for Mac
    • BioSimGrid: Grid database for biomolecular simulations
  • Project
    • The Condor project
    • How you can fight against diseases using your computer .
    • The OGSA-DAI Data virtualisation project

Last updated: 03-18-2005 11:16:12