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Author's profile photo Scott Braker

A Look at Grid Computing (Part I)

A Look at Grid Computing (Part I) Early in 2005 I became interested in SAP Adaptive Computing. I was sent to training where I worked with the product and I also began reading and learning the technology from every angle that I could grab onto. By mid 2005 I was well on my way to getting a great handle on it as well as handling presentations on the topic and handling SAP event PODs on the subject. Just as I was beginning to feel comfortable and somewhat strong on the subject a consultant hit me with a real monkey wrench of a question; “What is the difference between Adaptive Computing and Grid Computing, aren’t they the same thing”? I know that I stood there stupefied by the question when it was asked. I did not know the answer. As a matter of fact I did not even begin to know where to start an answer on that question. So I did what I never like doing. I got the persons contact information and told them that I would have to get back to them with an answer on this subject. Since that initial question about Grid I have received that same question probably two dozen or so times in the last 8 months. I guess that it is not just me that is not sure of the definition and the differences. So where did the term Grid Computing come from and was does it mean in the world of computing in general? Way back in the days of the early 1990’s or so we first saw the term “Grid Computing” start to be used. Initially the idea was to look at accessing computer power in the same simple and easy way that we as consumers access electrical power via the electrical power grids available to us all. From a CERN point of view they look at The Grid as “a service for sharing computer power and data storage capacity over the Internet.” So from that statement we can sort of see the endless possibilities of CPU, MEM and various data buckets or folders that could be available to us at any given moment. Now think back to a time that was pre internet if you will. Back when Marty and Doc were trying to find a power source to get their super charged time traveling Delorean sports car a power source that would give the FLUX capacitor the 1.21 jigawatts it needed to get BACK TO THE FUTURE… Yes, that is right. Straight back to the mid 1980’s when you had to log into local BBS systems to communicate with other nerds and geeks on your PC. These were single points of access where in everyone shared both the computing power and data storage of the single machine that they were dialing into. This single access dial-in format had only one FTP space, one BBS space, one User database etc. If you wanted to access different information that was not contained within a specific BBS you needed to hang up and dial into a different BBS system and hopefully get the info you needed there. When CERN and Al Gore (it’s a joke son… a joke I say) invented the Internet in 1993 the World Wide Web was open for business. Essentially so was the Grid at this point too. Suddenly there were multiple storage sites with access to massive computing power right at your finger tips that you could get at as fast as your 2400 Baud Modem could download it to your rocking fast Pentium 75. You can look at these humble beginnings as what is called an External Grid. By this I am loosely referencing the way that various colleges and universities shared data and storage of that data in the beginning of the web. If you do a quick web search on BIRN and see how they have handled not for profit research you will see what I mean in much more detail. A Look at Grid Computing (Part II)

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