Grid Computing Is Poised To Replace Managed Services

Updated: Nov 11 2003, 05:30am hrs
Grid computing is the latest buzzword where sharing, selection and aggregation of computing resources are the ultimate goals. All the major Information Technology (IT) vendors from IBM, Sun Microsystems to Hewlett-Packard (HP) are driving the technology of grid computing. In an interview with Indranil Chakraborty, CESC Ltd chief information officer Subrato Das speaks on the future of grid computing in the country and how it will help the IT managers to manage resources effectively.

How will you distinguish between grid and cluster computing
There is a lot of marketing hype associated with the two concepts and people often refer to cluster as a grid. In my opinion, grid computing is a type of parallel and distributed system that enables the sharing, selection, and aggregation of geographically distributed autonomous resour-ces, that can span across a single or multiple organisations, dynamically at runtime depending up on their availability, capability, performance, cost, and users quality of service requirements.

The key distinction between grids and clusters essentially centres around the way computing resources are managed. In case of grids, each node has its own resource manager and dont aim for providing a single system view, whereas in case of clusters, the resource allocation is performed by a centralised resource manager and all nodes work together as a single unified resource.

What kind of technologies and applications are being developed or are presently available in the market Are Indian technology managers interested in using grid computing to develop applications
Standards are key to making grid computing work, because grids frequently involve large numbers of different computing resources that dont always work together smoothly. Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and the University of Southern California developed an open source grid management software called the Globus Toolkit. HP and Toronto-based Platform Computing have been selling their own proprietary grid solutions. The meeting of minds between academic and commercial communities is on its way with merger of the Global Grid Forum and the New Productivity Initiative.

Meanwhile, the most interesting development to bring grid computing to commercial enterprise has taken place with OGSA (Open Grid Services Architecture) initiative. This calls for integrating widely used Internet standards like XML and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) with Globus project developed standards for locating, scheduling and securing computing resources on grids.

IBM immediately announced support for OGSA and plans for grid-enabled products such as WebSphere AS and to use Tivoli data mangement program to help configure and manage grids.

Grids cant solve all the computing problems. The types of applications grids can better handle are ones that can be solved by a divide and conquer approach, that is, run a calculation or change a few parameters. In brief, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) intensive computing problems that dont involve huge amount of data transfer around a geographically distributed network is better suited for grid computing at this point in time.

As a CIO of a power utility company, where do you think grid computing can be used in the utility segment of IT
I am sure that grid computing is poised to replace todays world of managed services and outsourced applications and eventually computing power will be available on a public utility like grid, much as electricity, gas, or water are today. But the evolution will take place in phases.

* Few organisations are creating partner grids by entering into arrangements where they share computing resources, and in some cases, data and applications, with other groups.

* Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Chase have created a private utility where they announced large outsourcing deals with IBM that call for Big Blue to supply extra compuing power when the Wall Street firms outstrip their own computing power. IBM is making a concerted push in this direction that they refer as on-demand computing.

* But safeguarding the security and confidentiality of the data on the grid remains a key challenge as organisations are not going to share their data unless they have absolute confidence in the security and privacy of the environment.

* As the utility vendors become more practiced at providing the requisite on-demand service, the private utility model is bound to grow in years to come as it will be natural extension of outsourcing.