This paper was published on an IBM website. However, it develops concepts which are hardware-neutral.
In Conceptual flyover for developers, Thomas Myer says that "grid computing is the 'next big thing,' and his article's goal is to provide a '10,000-foot view' of key concepts."
But first, what's grid computing? Myer answers with an analogy.
If you can think of the Internet as a network of communication, then Grid computing is a network of computation: tools and protocols for coordinated resource sharing and problem solving among pooled assets. These pooled assets are known as virtual organizations. They can be distributed across the globe; they're heterogeneous (some PCs, some servers, maybe mainframes and supercomputers); somewhat autonomous (a Grid can potentially access resources in different organizations); and temporary.
Myer then looks at what developers need: open standards.
Virtual organizations can be a handful of servers or desktop PCs in a single room, or a heterogeneous hodge-podge of systems scattered around the world connected via the Internet. All of these systems are able to work together because of certain protocols, which control connectivity, resource allocation and management, and coordination of those resources.
An effort is underway by the Global Grid forum to organize these protocols under the Open Grid Services Architecture, or OGSA, which has grown out of the open standards-based Web Services world. It's called an architecture because it is mainly about describing and building a well-defined set of interfaces from which systems can be built, all based on open standards like the Web Services Description Language (WSDL).
So, will it be easy to develop applications working in a grid computing environment? No way. There still are big issues to solve. These include for example security, reliability and performance.
Finally, Myer offers an impressive list of white papers and resources available on the Web about grid computing.
Source: Thomas Myer, for IBM developerWorks, May 2003
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