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Welcome to “A Look at Grid Computing (Part II)”. If you would like to go back and start this series from the beginning please follow this link: A Look at Grid Computing (Part I). In the last few months I have been doing quite a bit of reading on Ian Foster’s website. He appears to be widely regarded as the foremost authority on Grid Computing. Within one of the documents on his site Foster talks of three basic definitions that have changed over time. The first quote that is listed talks a bit about computing and services via on demand access from home/office computers. This referenced quote was originally published in 1969 by Len Kleinrock: “We will probably see the spread of ‘computer utilities’, which, like present electric and telephone utilities, will service individual homes and offices across the country.” If you look back into the first installment of this series I mentioned the old dial up BBS systems that we all had access to in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. To me this is the type of functionality that I would expect to receive from the above quote. Simple apps, transactions and functionality much like what we get from electric and phone service. That quote was made before Cable TV became a mainstay and long before the World Wide Web sunk its claws into our day to day activities. In 1998 Foster and Carl Kesselman wrote a book together entitled: “The Grid: Blueprint for a New Computing Infrastructure.” He talks about how the two attempted to define Grid Computing at that time as: “A computational grid is a hardware and software infrastructure that provides dependable, consistent, pervasive, and inexpensive access to high-end computational capabilities.” When I first read that quote I thought… “Well then! Now we are getting somewhere”. No longer are you just dialing into a single machine with limited applications and functionality. You now have the ability as well as capability to dial in to a much more powerful infrastructure that will allow you access to multiple storage devices, applications and functionality. All at $19.95 a month! Still this may not give me the direct access to resources and applications that I need to truly be able to use the Grid in a manner that is proficient for not only myself but for everyone else that is trying to use the Grid. In 2000 Foster and Steve Tuecke tried to yet again redefine the definition of what Grid Computing truly was. Maybe this was because of the way we as users and IT business people had begun to look at the World Wide Web, our internal networks, Software Licensing and maybe even outsourcing of services. Around 1999-2001 the big buzz that I remember the most was the whole rush to develop and get in on the “Application Service Provider” market. These ASP’s offered services like word processing, HR needs, Graphics rendering etc. They sold you seats so that your business could log into their Grid via the World Wide Web and use pre defined applications and computing power. They hosted the applications that previously sat on your employee desktops or laptops. BRILLIANT! The bell curve on the second definition was some what blown out of the water and was again attempted to be redefined at this point. Foster and Tuecke came stated that the definition needed now to deal with policy issues as well as social issues. Essentially what is being said is that not only does it have to do with file sharing and or file transfer but more to do with direct access to a variety of resources, data, software and computers. This connectivity within the grid also needs to be controlled by user rights, service rights etc. that are defined by the users using the services and the service providers themselves.
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  1. Guru Subramanian B
    Hi Scott,
    The URL link which you have gicen for Ian Foster’s website seems to be not working. I get an error saying “Document Not found”.

    Regards,
    Guru Subramanian B

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    1. Scott Braker Post author
      Hi,

      Sorry about that. Looks like something was stripped from the HTML when I posted the BLOG…

      Maybe SDN didn’t like my quote marks.

      Link is working now. Thank you for the Heads up!

      -Scott

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    1. Scott Braker Post author
      Hi Deepak,

      It is all very relevant indeed. If you look at the SAP Adaptive Computing offering as well as the HPA engine you can begin to see were Grid computing will make our lives potentially more efficient over the next few years.

      -Scott

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