Wednesday, January 9, 2008

There's Grid in them thar clouds

[Ian Foster has posted an excellent commentary in his blog on the relationship between grids and clouds. As well Grid Today reported On Dec. 6, there was a session on "Utility Computing, Grids, and Virtualization" at a meeting of the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium in St. Petersburg, Fla. There were some excellent presentations on the relationship between clouds grids, virtualization, SOA, etc .--BSA]

The session was co-hosted by the Open Grid Forum. The proceedings of the session are available at

Ian Foster commentary


the problems are mostly the same in cloud and grid. There is a common need to be able to manage large facilities; to define methods by which consumers discover, request, and use resources provided by the central facilities; and to implement the often highly parallel computations that execute on those resources. Details differ, but the two communities are struggling with many of the same issues.

Unfortunately, at least to date, the methods used to achieve these goals in today’s commercial clouds have not been open and general purpose, but instead been mostly proprietary and specialized for the specific internal uses (e.g., large-scale data analysis) of the companies that developed them. The idea that we might want to enable interoperability between providers (as in the electric power grid) has not yet surfaced. Grid technologies and protocols speak precisely to these issues, and should be considered. ... In building this distributed “cloud” or “grid” (“groud”?), we will need to support on-demand provisioning and configuration of integrated “virtual systems” providing the precise capabilities needed by an end-user. We will need to define protocols that allow users and service providers to discover and hand off demands to other providers, to monitor and manage their reservations, and arrange payment. We will need tools for managing both the underlying resources and the resulting distributed computations. We will need the centralized scale of today’s cloud utilities, and the distribution and interoperability of today’s grid facilities.

Some of the required protocols and tools will come from the smart people at Amazon and Google. Others will come from the smart people working on grid. Others will come from those creating whatever we call this stuff after grid and cloud. It will be interesting to see to what extent these different communities manage to find common cause, or instead proceed along parallel paths.