Grids: Conquest of Space - Page 4


With the grid in place, its up to developers and researchers to put it to work.

"Innovative ideas are most easily implemented as middleware, as in Globus," said Phil Andrews, program director for high-end computing at SDSC. "If they become successful, they naturally migrate down toward infrastructure, where their reliability, transparency for the users and efficiency are all optimized. Those which dont make the journey will disappear, while the successful ones become standard pieces of the computational environment.

"Rather than trying to hang on to them, continually adding features, the developers need to wish them bon voyage and turn to developing the next innovative ideas. One facility were trying to harden at SDSC, in combination with IBM, is the Global File System approach, with their GPFS [General Parallel File System] as the present implementation," Andrews said.

"While much of the grid technology thought, science and people are coming out of the university environment, the demands of grid infrastructures in universities and in commercial enterprises are very different," said Larry Tabb, president of The Tabb Group, a Westboro, Mass., market research company.

"University grids tend to facilitate the sharing of compute infrastructures between and among many universities, while commercial grids tend to leverage the infrastructure within the firm and do not connect to the outside," Tabb said.

"There are also much more sophisticated needs for commercial grids that are trying to solve problems that require a real- or near-real-time response, while university grids are much less interested in real time and much more interested in harnessing massive quantities of compute cycles," he said.

Grid technologys immediate future includes the infusion of Web services. "I think the evolution of grid software will be fairly rapid," Papadopoulos said. "From a technical point of view, the main grid infrastructure is just making this transition to a Web services-based infrastructure, which means that theres Web services plus some other things."

In addition, the hardware infrastructure for grids will continue to grow, boosting performance and computing potential, Papadopoulos said.

Berman said the grid community has come a long way.

"There are real challenges in terms of security, in terms of programming environments for grids [and] in terms of policy when you cross different administrative domains or national boundaries," she said. "In terms of modeling the performance of grid environments, you have to model networks and computers and data storage and the kind of dynamic interaction they have. We still have a ways to go, but weve come a long way with grid computing."


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