What is Grid Computing?

What is Grid Computing?
Grid computing is all about using the untapped resources of computers connected to a network. IBM perhaps defines it most succinctly: Grid computing is applying resources from many computers in a network-at the same time-to a single problem. The development of the World Wide Web revolutionized the way we think about and access information. We really don't think twice anymore about logging on to the web and pulling up information on almost any topic imaginable. What the Web did for information, Grid computing aims to do for computation. Grid computing is really the next logical evolution of the Internet.

The Internet began with TCP/IP and networking; then came communication with e-mail, followed by information sharing with the World Wide Web. Next will be the advent of grid computing, the sharing of actual computer resources, such as memory, storage, and processing power. It is almost mind boggling to imagine the types of applications that could be developed if access to distributed supercomputers, mass storage and vast memory were as straightforward as access to the web. So there are several ways of looking at Grid Computing: as a way to connect the computational power of all the big computers together and give access to companies and academia alike; as a way to connect ALL the computers both big and small and derive computational efficiencies (think peer-to-peer networks); as the next logical step in providing a computational platform for Web Services; as a business on demand or computing as a utility model which IBM and others are touting. All of the above are in effect true.

Through a variety of different means and technologies, computers will learn to share each other's processors, storage and memory, much as they share communications and information today, and applications will take advantage of these resources. While we are far from realizing the full effects that Grid computing will bring, it is upon us and there are both short-term and long-term ramifications for the enterprise.

The actual brains of the computers will be connected, not just the arteries. This means that users will begin to experience the Internet as a seamless computational universe. Software applications, database sessions, and video and audio streams will be reborn as services that live in cyberspace. Once plugged into the grid, a desktop machine will draw computational power from all the other machines in the grid. The Internet itself will become a computing platform. Grid computing is the next logical step for the Internet to take.
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