This chapter presents a historical record of the advent of Grid with a recourse to some basic definitions commonly accepted by most researchers. It discusses the current and potential users of Grid computing and the expected changes in the user base as it gains popularity. The role of the Internet infrastructure in shaping the grid evolution received detailed treatment. Furthermore, the chapter contrasts grid computing with distributed and peer-to-peer computing and highlighted the salient features. Finally, the chapter discusses the recent advances in Web and Grid service technologies, including international projects, emerging standards and organizations, and the current challenges faced by Grid researchers.
Electrical Power Grid
Most of us have a pervasive access to electrical power. It is a little bit like the air we breathe: we don’t really think about it until it is missing. Power is just “there,” meeting our every need, constantly. It is only during a power failure like the 2003 North American Blackout, when we walk into a dark room and instinctively hit the useless light switch that we realize how important power is in our daily life. We use it for heating, cooling, cooking, refrigeration, light, sound, computation, and entertainment. Without it, life can get somewhat cumbersome. Electrical power is brought from the power plant to our houses through an amazing system called the power distribution grid, which sometimes covers a region, a nation and even a continent. For power to be useful in a home or business, transformers step transmission voltages (in the tens or hundreds of thousands of volts range) down to voltages of typically 100-250 volts. Through this regional, national or even continental distribution grid, finally we are down to the wire that brings power to our house. No matter if we live in a suburban or rural area, availability of electricity is the same. It is so public, in fact, that we don’t even notice its existence anymore. Our brain ignores all of the power lines because we have seen them so often. (Figure 1 and Figure 2)
The computational grid offers the ability of “grid computing” to plug into a network of computer systems and have access not just to information but also to computing power. The word “grid” is chosen by analogy with the electric power grid.
Evolutionary history of information technology
Key Terms in this Chapter
Web Service: A web service is a software system (often Web APIs accessible over a network) designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network.
OGSA: Open Grid Services Architecture or OGSA is a grid standard that aims to define a common, standard, and open architecture for grid-based applications.
WSRF: Web Services Resource Framework or WSRF is a set of Web Service specifications being developed by the OASIS organization. These specifications describe how to implement OGSA capabilities using Web services.
Grid Computing: It involves resource sharing and coordinated problem solving in dynamic and multi-institutional virtual organizations.
Distributed Computing: In distributed computing, parts of a program run simultaneously on two or more computers that are communicating with each other over a network.
Virtual Organization: It can consist of multiple independent organizations linked through a computer network. These independent organizations share skills and resources to achieve their goals.
Virtualization: It is an interface often provided with grid services to hide the complexity of the underlying resources.