Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Setting up a Grid – The requirements

Setting up a grid involves a lot of different steps. Even the simplest of all grids would require a very good network infrastructure, storage and computational resources as well as the middleware and resource managers. The other features can be added as required and desired.

Infrastructure Requirements: The Network

Network is the heart of any successful grid implementation. Most grid implementations are using the high speed fiber optics backbone providing speeds up to 40 Gbps. If the network connectivity is not reliable or appropriate bandwidth is not available, the grid applications deployed on top of it should communicate as little as possible and support high latency, or the deployment will fail. For normal data-intensive or low latency application, high speed fiber optics network should be there.

At present, grids are built on high-performance network. According to Berman et. al., by the year 2002, most of those networks had roughly 10Gbps backbone. Examples of such networks include Abilene Network (USA), SuperJanet backbone (UK), GEANT Network (intra-Europe), APAN (Asia Pacific), and others. A given institution is connected via about 1 Gbps link to the backbone and has around a 100 Mbps LAN. This means that there is a 10:1:0.1 Gbps ratio between national, organizational, desktop links.

A Global Terabit Research Network (GTRN) is expected to enhance this ratio many times. GTRN aims to enhance the international, national, organizational, optical desktop and copper desktop link ratios to 1000:1000:100:10:1 Gbps, a 100 times increase from the current state. The NSF funded TeraGrid project, has one of the most striking network infrastructure with four locations spread across USA linked with a backbone of 40 Gbps.

Hardware Requirements: Shared Resources

Resources are the main building block of the grid. The whole concept was introduced to share resources, so there should be redundant and highly-available resources. Even simple grid systems include a combination of high speed and high capacity data storage in addition to a large amount of computational power. Additionally, a scientific grid consists of specialized analysis, visualization and scientific equipments. Other specialized grids have other components as well.

Software Requirements: The Grid Middleware

The software layer between the operating system and the applications is termed as middleware. It provides a variety of services required by an application to function correctly. Middleware has recently re-emerged as a means of integrating software applications running in distributed heterogeneous environments. Middleware thus refers to the software which is common to multiple applications and builds on the network transport services to enable ready development of new applications and network services. CORBA, for example, defines a middleware standard.

In a grid, the middleware is used to hide the heterogeneous nature and provide users and applications with a homogeneous and seamless environment by providing a set of standardized interfaces to a variety of services [9]. With the use of service oriented architecture in grid computing (see next section for details), this middleware consists of the services commonly used by the grid applications like authentication, resource access and management, etc. Examples of such middleware include the Globus toolkit.

With so many resources available, these need to be looked up by probable users and need to be managed properly. This task is performed by resource managers which manage resources like processing power by distributing it among the many applications depending upon their priority. GRAM, the Globus Resource Allocation Manager is one such resource manager which is an integral part of the Globus toolkit.

Considering that the main purpose of most grid implementations is distributed processing, we also need a meta-scheduler most of the times.

Most of the grids would also require specialized software applications making use of the available grid resources in the most optimal way. These applications are usually built using the services provided by the middleware, resource managers, job schedulers and other components.

Software Requirements: Grid Portals - The User Interface for the Grid

In order to provide easy access to the grid services and the resources, a web portal like interface to grid was introduced called The Grid Portal. Just like a web portal allows users to access various resources via a web interface, a grid portal provides access to grid resources. Grid portal utilizes the web browser as a thin client and thus has the advantage of having minimal setup time on the machines of the users. A typical grid portal provides functionality to authenticate users, permit them to access remote resources, help them make decisions about scheduling jobs, and allow users to access and manipulate grid enabled databases and file systems. Grid portal access can also be personalized by the use of profiles, which are created and stored for each portal user.

Many teams have come up with various applications and projects helpful in the development of the grid portals which include NPACI Hotpage, OGCE, SDSC Grid Port Toolkit, Mississippi Computational Web Portal, Lattice Portal, Grid Portal Development Kit and many others.

Grid Certification Authority

The Grid Security Model as described in Globus Grid Security Infrastructure (GSI) is an extension of public key infrastructure (X.509 certificates). In the short term the user generates his short-term proxy using his long-term certificate. Grid implementations thus require presence of a Certification Authority to issue certificates to users and hosts. Grid Certificates are just like the normal certificates used on the Internet and even the same authorities can be used. But due to security considerations, it is expected that grid has its own certification authorities.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Microsoft and Grid Computing

According to a CNET News article: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5889460.html

Microsoft is creating a "Cluster Compute" version of Windows and intends to work more closely with grid industry standards bodies, Tony Hey, the company's corporate vice president of technical computing, said in an interview with CNET News.com on Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

CCGrid 2006 - Call for Papers

CCGrid 2006: 6th IEEE International Symposium on Cluster Computing and the Grid
16-19 May 2006


!!Submission Deadline: 15th November 2005!!



CCGrid 2006 is the sixth in a series of successful international conferences and
for the first time will take place in the heart of South-East Asia ? Singapore.
The conference will be held at Singapore Management University in the centre of
Singapore. The past years have seen tremendous challenges with the convergence
of Web Services and Grid Technology. There have been major initiatives ?
internationally as well as locally ? within the community that has taken up
these challenges. Grid Technology enables us to make a major change in the
paradigm for conducting our work with the holy grail of ?computing on tap?,
which in particular includes collaborative sharing. With this in mind CCGrid 2006
provides researchers and practitioners with an excellent opportunity to share
their research and experience at the cross-roads of Grid Technology. The areas
of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:
? Web Services Flow Languages
? Programming Models, Tools & Environments
? Peer-to-Peer computing
? Information Services
? Resource Exchange Architectures
? Grid-based Problem Solving Environments
? Scientific, Engineering and Commercial Grid Applications
? Middleware for Clusters and Grids
? Parallel File Systems & Wide Area File Systems
? Scheduling and Load Balancing
? Performance Evaluation and Modelling
? Resource Management and Scheduling
? Computational Data and Information Grid
? Architectures and Systems
? Grid Economies and Service Architectures


Authors are invited to submit a full length 8-page paper of double column text
using single spaced 10 pt size type on 8.5?x11? paper, as per IEEE manuscript
guidelines. Detailed paper submission instructions will be placed on the
conference web-page. It is expected that the proceedings will be published by
the IEEE Computer Society Press, USA, and will be made available online through
the IEEE Digital Library.


Those wishing to organise workshops, present tutorials on emerging topics or
participate in the industry track are invited to contact the respective chair
for further information.


Papers Due: 15th November 2005
Camera-Ready Papers: 15th February 2006
Notification of Acceptance: 15th January 2006
Tutorial Proposals: 15th January 2006

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Grid Computing Books

The following are some of the good grid computing books. I do have some of them, contact me for more details, if you are in Pakistan.
  • The Grid: Blueprint for a Future Computing Infrastructure, Morgan Kaufmann, 1998
  • The Grid 2: Blueprint for a New Computing Infrastructure, Morgan Kaufmann, 2003
  • Grid Computing Making The Global Infrastructure a Reality, John Wiley & Sons, 2003
  • Grid Computing - Practical Guide to Technology and Applications, Charles River Media, 2004
  • IBM Grid Computing (On Demand Series), Prentice Hall, 2003
For more and latest grid computing books, refer to Google Print:
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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Types of Grids

Grid have been divided into a number of types, on the basis of their use:

Computational Grid: These grids provide secure access to huge pool of shared processing power suitable for high throughput applications and computation intensive computing.

Data Grid: Data grids provide an infrastructure to support data storage, data discovery, data handling, data publication, and data manipulation of large volumes of data actually stored in various heterogeneous databases and file systems.

Collaboration Grid: With the advent of Internet, there has been an increased demand for better collaboration. Such advanced collaboration is possible using the grid. For instance, persons from different companies in a virtual enterprise can work on different components of a CAD project without even disclosing their proprietary technologies.

Network Grid: A Network Grid provides fault-tolerant and high-performance communication services. Each grid node works as a data router between two communication points, providing data-caching and other facilities to speed up the communications between such points.

Utility Grid: This is the ultimate form of the Grid, in which not only data and computation cycles are shared but software or just about any resource is shared. The main services provided through utility grids are software and special equipments. For instance, the applications can be run on one machine and all the users can send their data to be processed to that machine and receive the result back.
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Sunday, October 02, 2005

The uses of Grid Computing

Grid was primarily devised for computationally intensive scientific work like systems design, data analysis and visualization, climate research, and so on (see Error! Reference source not found.). Hence it was used for these purposes in various projects. Later on the concept was generalized to sharing just about any kind of resource. The new capabilities provided by the grid greatly facilitate the scientists and engineers. Some of the ways grid can be used are:
  • High throughput computing
  • Distributed Supercomputing
  • Data-intensive computing
  • On demand computing (utility computing)
  • Collaboration within and among organizations
  • Data sharing between various offices and partners
  • Virtual enterprises and virtual markets could be developed easily using grids
  • Providing virtual services, like virtual lectures, virtual stores, etc
  • To connect and share heterogeneous distributed resources

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Saturday, October 01, 2005

What is Grid Computing

Grid computing is an infrastructure that supports large-scale, coordinated, resource sharing among heterogeneous systems that span organizational and geographic boundaries in a dynamic manner.

Ian Foster has provided a checklist to identify a grid saying that a grid is one which:
  1. Coordinates resources not subject to centralized control
  2. Uses standard, open, general-purpose interfaces and protocols
  3. Delivers non-trivial qualities of service

Grid computing can be though of as a distributed computing infrastructure that can provide all computing resources as and when required just like the electrical grids and other utility grids do.

Grid computing involves coordinating and sharing computing,data,network resources that are dynamically and geographically dispersed. Resource grid involves utility computing,on-demand and adaptive enterprises Data grid focuses on life-cycle control,distributed file systems and Web services,like google. Compute grid,the most common in use now,Focus on servers and PCs,the most sought after grid. This has been fueling advanced research in science and academia, now entering the corporate world.
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