Grid Computing Info Centre (GRID Infoware)

Grid Computing Info Centre: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Grid ?

In June'02, Dr. Buyya attended the Grid Computing Planet conference in San Jose, California and he was surprised to learn that people even call clusters as grids. He felt that it was a marketing hype. Here is his definition of the Grid, which is based on his presentation as part of the "Understanding the Grid" panel:

Grid is a type of parallel and distributed system that enables the sharing, selection, and aggregation of geographically distributed "autonomous" resources dynamically at runtime depending on their availability, capability, performance, cost, and users' quality-of-service requirements.

It should be noted that Grids aim at exploiting synergies that result from cooperation--ablity to share and agreegrate distributed computational capabilities and deliver them as service.

How is Grid different from other technologies such as Clusters/P2P/ASP? What about Grid Economy and Resource Management ? What about your work in this area ? and so on...

I have been asked such questions very frequently, which has trigged me to start creating this FAQ page.

The key distinction between clusters and grids is mainly lie in the way resources are managed. In case of clusters, the resource allocation is performed by a centralised resource manager and all nodes cooperatively work together as a single unified resource. In case of Grids, each node has its own resource manager and don't aim for providing a single system view. Some of these points are being highlighted in my panel presentation at P2P 2002 conference. It should be noted that autonomous resources in the Grid can span across a single or multiple organisations.

You will also be able to find some of my thoughts on these issues in some of my media interviews. Please check out the following interviews:

I also recommend you to read (a) Ian Foster's view and thoughts on different aspects of grid computing that appeared in GridToday and (b) Harvard researchers excellent thoughts on similarities and differences between p2p and grid computing.

What are key Design Issues in Grid Computing ? Who is addressing what ?

Read the following articles:

How does Computational Grids operate compared to Electrical Power Grids ?

There as many similarities (e.g., local and distributed resources) and differences (e.g., management issues) between them. For full details, please read the following articles:

Can I have a pointer to some Grid application works/works?

What about Grid Projects in Australia ?

Read the following article that appered in ZDnet news:

Is Grid research saturated ? I have read many papers, but don't know what topics to pursue ?

No, not yet! There is lot to be done. Your imagination is the only limit -- just increase your expectations on what Grid means to you and how you expect it to serve you. You will soon find out that they cann't be fulfilled by today's Grid technologies and this is something you can research on!. Topics such as security, resource management, scheduling, application composition, and programming tools have been investigated to some extent, but they were all low hanging fruits. More work is requiresed in these areas. Some which I have already pointed out in my thesis (see Chapter 8) and also in a Report on the EU Workshop "Grid Economy and Business Models". There are many more additional challenges that needs to be addressed to realise the full potential of Grids. I encourage you to read European Commission expert group report on Next Generation Grid(s), European Grid Research 2005 - 2010, US Cyberinfrastructure report, and GLANCE (GLobAl computer scieNCE) program report from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Another closest program is GENI: Global Environment for Network Innovations - Research Plan and our recent research initiative in InterGrid - Peering between Islands of Grids.

If you can find a way to contribute your bit in turning these dreams into a reality, your name will find a place in the history.

If you are unable to identify any new topics/issues, read some of the taxonomy papers mentioned below. Or try working on closely related area such as Service-Oriented Computing (SOC) which has many ideas similar to Grid computing. Check out Service-Oriented Computing: Research Roadmap for details.

Can you give me pointers to papers that present Taxonomy of various of aspects of Grid computing?

Who is teaching Grid Computing courses ?

A dedicated course on Grid Computing has has been taught at a number of universities, including the University of Melbourne, University of Minnesota, University of Southern California, Vrije Universiteit, and University of Leiden. A pointer to an integrated teaching and research program conducted by GRIDS Lab @ the University of Melbourne is:

The University of Melbourne has started a new degree in this area. Check out website of Master of Engineering in Distributed Computing.

What is Utility computing ? How is it different from Grid computing?

Utility computing paradigm enables the leasing of information and communication technology (ICT) services on demand based on user-QoS requirements.

It is really a computing model whereas Grid is an emerging distributed infrastructure/platform, which can be utilised for realising utility computing. An example initiative that demonstrates this is our Gridbus project. You can also realise utility computing model using other parallel and distributed platforms such as clusters. Check our developments such as Libra that demonstrates economy based scheduling and utility computing model on clusters.

For further details, please refer to a book chapter of "Utility Computing and Global Grids".

I am interested in building a large-scale national level Grid network in my country. Can you give me examples of some collaborative Grid networks ?

The collaborative Grid networks are generally assembled to meet some challenges or demonstrate some new ideas. Examples include:

What all software technologies are needed to build a Grid network?

Several Grid middleware software systems are available for building high-end computing Grids and their applications. Please read our article that reports results of our study on four Grid middlewares and our personal opinion/comments on how they compare and compliment each other.

Based on our experience in building and enhancing World-Wide Grid network in collaboration with colleagues from around the globe, it is important to choose Grid technologies that support and work on a wide variety of resources, which are heterogenous in terms of various factors including architecture, instruction set, configuration, node operating system, and local resource managers. Within the WWG, we have supported both Unix-class resources (PCs, clusters, SMPs, etc. running Unix and its variant operating systems such as Linux, Solaris, AIX, and Irix) and Windows-class resources (mainly desktop PCs and clusters running Microsoft Windows operating system). To Grid-enable such resources, we used the following middleware technologies:

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