Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Open Grid Forum: Grids and Clouds

I recently heard about Irving Wladowsky-Berger's keynote speech at the Open Grid Forum and was pleased to see that the slides from his keynote were made available there as well. While I'd love to have the transcript from that talk available - Irving is a very engaging and dynamic speaker, the slides alone are also quite interesting. In particular, Slides 19 and 20 provide a nice little visual on something we are referring to as Ensembles, which I'll talk about more in the future. But the graphics give an interesting preview of the thinking regarding how we an simplify the data center. Yeah, they need the transcript or some discussion to enlighten the reader but I think it visually plants a useful concept on grouping of like resources as a means of simplifying the management of those resources. There are some other resources on grids and cloud computing which I think are worth reading, including some comments from Steve Crumb, the Executive Director of the Open Grid Form, and from Ian Foster who is a visionary and leader in the Grid computing space.

The short summary is: Clouds are more than Grids. But there are similarities and in some ways, Clouds build upon some of the thinking and concepts inherent in Grid Computing. Of course, Clouds build on a number of concepts, include autonomic computing, on-demand computing, virtualization, self-healing, and many of the other trends over the past several years. I think the biggest difference over many of the past views is that previously these technologies were focused on improving aspects of the computing environment - where cloud computing really focused on bringing those strategies together to provide value to the end user and to reduce the cost and effort of managing computing resources.

Of course, not all of the work is done, cloud computing is not something you can buy off the shelf today, and some of the work requires a paradigm shift across the industry. On the other hand, most of the work of cloud computing will be done by standing on the shoulders of other giant technology leaps in the industry, so in part, much of the work will be to integrate and reshape those technologies into a new and more accessible form. The journey promises to be challenging but the reward appears to be great!



At 12:42 PM, Blogger the said...

Thanks for making me aware of Irving's charts. I agree he's great to watch in person, but even the visuals are helpful.

I have to disagree with you on one point though. You state " computing is not something you can buy off the shelf today..." but I think Amazon and many other companies would seriously disagree with you.

In IBM's world we're not there yet but theres more beyond these walls.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger Gerrit said...

Ah, I love a little disagreement - it helps me find out when people are paying attention! ;) Thanks for the comment, btw.

To your point, though, I'll play a little bit of semantics for a moment. I'd like to distinguish between a "compute cloud" and "cloud computing" in the more general sense. You are absolutely correct that several vendors are now selling compute cycles, storage cycles, etc. to customers. However, I'm not convinced that I would consider that to be all out cloud computing, although it is a great step in the right direction. BTW, even IBM offers things like that today through it's Deep Computing Capacity on Demand, for instance (and several other targetted programs).

But most of those solutions have limits. Today, as far as I know, Amazon provides Internet services, rather than providing true isolation within your Intranet for those who need that. Also, they don't allow you to configure your backups to meet your Sorbanes-Oaxley requirements or to set up complex network configuration. The discussion of HA in the next article is another area where this is some challenge in that style of service being offered.

So, today you can buy a cloud-based service, where someone else handles all of the management, at the cost of limiting your options (how many hardware configs does EC2 provide today?) In the future, you'll be able to build/buy the technology to create your own cloud environment, which provides that level of service/provisioning, but also gives you the ability to craft your services for your businesses needs. So, I'll stand by my claim that you can't buy cloud computing today - you *can* buy a service provided by someone else's cloud. You can probably also build your own cloud today, although it may still be as much work as managing your systems on your own.

Anyway, I know that is a semantic distinction, but I think it might offer some insight into where my head is on this subject. ;)

Thanks for the comment!

At 2:04 PM, Blogger simo375 said...

Check out GoGrid as an Amazon EC2 alternative in Cloud Servers.


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