The language of grids

"Grid computing" has such an amorphous meaning that an industry group has proposed a common way to discuss what grids are, particularly to business customers.

The Enterprise Grid Alliance (EGA) on Tuesday released their first Reference Model, which describes the component pieces of what a grid is and what it can be used for. The EGA is a consortium, made up primarily of vendors, to endorse adoption of grid computing in corporation. (IBM is not a member.)

Over the next nine months, the EGA will release a few technical documents, outlining requirements and giving specific guidelines for things such as security and billing. The first step was the reference model because terminology is important, says Paul Strong, chairman of the EGA technical steering committee and systems architect at Sun Microsystems.

"Everyone uses similar but not quite synonymous terms for problems in this space," says Strong.

What grids aren't, says Strong, is a fancy term for moving computing workloads around a network. Most data centers are already distributed systems where work runs on different machines, he notes.

"What is missing is the leveraging of certain technologies, particularly virtualization and automation and the use of abstraction to make management possible," he said.

The group does not intend to define its own standards, but instead work with existing bodies, notably the Global Grid Forum (GGF) and the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF).

 

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