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What is GRID Computing?
An evolution of distributed computing , grid computing represents enormous opportunities for organizations to use processing cycles from networks of computers spanning multiple geographical boundaries.
While the idea of grid computing may sound complex, it can be compared to the peer-to-peer (P2P) computing model made popular by Napster’s file-sharing community. In much the same way that Napster enabled users to access and share music between desktop computers, distributed computing uses a similar model to pool the resources available in separate clusters of desktop computers, servers or supercomputers. Grid computing elevates these clusters to the next level by connecting multiple clusters over geographically dispersed areas for enhanced collaboration and resource sharing.
Benefits of GRID Computing :
• Grid computing enables organizations to aggregate resources within an entire IT infrastructure no matter where in the world they are located. It eliminates situations where one site is running on maximum capacity, while others have cycles to spare.
• Organizations can dramatically improve the quality and speed of the products and services they deliver, while reducing IT costs by enabling transparent collaboration and resource sharing.
• Grid computing enables companies to access and share remote databases. This is especially beneficial to the life sciences and research communities, where enormous volumes of data are generated and analysed during any given day.
• Grid computing enables widely dispersed organizations to easily collaborate on projects by creating the ability to share everything from software applications and data, to engineering blueprints.
• Grid computing can create a more robust and resilient IT infrastructure better able to respond to minor or major disasters.
• A grid can harness the idle processing cycles that are available in desktop PCs located in various locations across multiple time zones. For example, PCs that would typically remain idle overnight at a company’s Asian manufacturing plant could be utilized during the day by its European operations.
The GRID potential :
The earliest and simplest form of grid computing began with the concept of distributed computing. But today, grid computing is viewed as the next generation IT infrastructure, and is expected to transform computation,communication and collaboration.
A multitude of grids will exist, each within its own context, shared by communities within the same industry or with the same interests. Grids will be service-driven, with organizations accessing computing resources over the internet on an as-needed, or utility, basis.
Analysts estimate that widespread adoption of grid computing will take a three-phased approach .
The first phase currently being deployed is Enterprise Grids . This phase involves the commercial implementation of production grids within major corporations that have a global presence or a need to access resources outside a single corporate location. Enterprise Grid adoption is simplified and possible today because the virtual collaboration and the sharing of available resources occurs behind a corporate firewall.
The second phase, Partner Grids , will emerge as organizations operating within similar industries and areas of interest collaborate on projects, and use each other’s resources as a means to reach a common goal. For example, life sciences organizations working together could accelerate their research time by harnessing the computer potential of available systems or by sharing large amounts of data within partner organizations.
The third phase, Service Grids , will occur as users adopt the grid as a utility model. Much in the same way as consumers are now more confident in their use of the internet, widespread recognition of the benefits of grid computing will take it to the next level of adoption. This final phase, where computer resources are leased on a per use or as-needed basis, will only occur once the grid computing model is proven to be reliable, secure and based on a widely accepted standards and protocols.
For grid computing to emerge as a successful resource-sharing model, strong partnerships need to be established between the software companies that design grid technologies, the hardware vendors that manufacture the systems that grids will run on, and the application developers that will utilise the capabilities of the grid. Additionally, open standards and specifications need to be established to ensure interoperability between the heterogeneous open source and proprietary solutions that will provide businesses with a broad range of options to choose from.
Experts agree – grid computing has the potential to revolutionise the world of information technology, much in the same way as the internet completely transformed the way people and businesses communicate and share information. It is these and other initiatives that will accelerate the adoption of grid computing beyond scientific and technical applications to everyday business use.