What the hell are Grids anyway?

Summary:Platform Computing chief executive Songnian Zhou has the answers to everything you wanted to know about Grid technology but were afraid to ask

Some experts are claiming that the natural end-point of grid technology is the creation of "the Grid" -- a single global computing network that does for data processing what the Web has done for online content?
There is a very strong connection and natural evolution -- I made that connection in about 1999. If you look at the Web it provides a natural interface for humans, first and foremost to access information and data. But over time you start to say, "I want to add value to data, I want to provide intelligence and capability". To do that you need applications and this is where the Grid infrastructure comes into play and Grid becomes the support infrastructure for all the applications that become the active components on the Internet-wide environment.

So how far off is the concept of "the Grid"?
If you look at the maturity of the Grid compared to the Web than that kind of model is at least ten years away. You need to recognise that the Web compared to the grid is much simpler. Grid is all about the applications, the business logic and businesses have to transform to take advantage of this paradigm. Computing is going through an evolution from the middle ages to the renaissance period. With Grid you no longer talk about CPUs, you no longer talk about hardware, you no longer even talk about applications -- you talk about services.

So you advocate idea of utility computing such as that put forward by companies such as Sun where computing resources are analogous to the telephone network?
Yes, IT is becoming increasingly complex and companies don't have the necessary experts to create all the solutions for themselves - it doesn't make sense anymore.

Utility computing makes sense on paper, so why don't enterprises seem to be taking to it?
It's because customers are just not ready at all, mostly because the service providers have not been ready for this. The reality of today and the next several years is that if the customers are not moving in this direction for their own in-sourced IT the chances are that they won't be in a position to take up the offer of these kinds of services from the vendors. And what's more, the vendors won't be able to deliver these kind of services because they don't even know what the customers want, and they don't have the requisite technologies at all, because we are too busy debating what the grid is.

Topics: Networking

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"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism." Hunter S. Thompson Andrew Donoghue is a freelance technology and business journ... Full Bio

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