Grid computing: faster results at less cost

This article has been extrated from the online edition of the Business Daily Newspaper dated 28th April 2008. The link to this article is http://www.bdafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7243&Itemid=5847

Moses Kemibaro - Dotsavvy Limited
Grid computing, a new technology that has been on trial for the last seven years, poses a threat to the single desktop computing. Experts says as organisations grow so is the amount of data and need to transact business faster and more cost effectively.Apart from obtaining considerable returns, the use of grid computing can improve IT utilisation and help avoid budget pitfalls.

Experts says the technology can enable users to tap into surplus processing powers of computers or servers with only an additional hardware required for the basic grid implementation.

Although some organizations currently use the technology over the Local Area Network, experts see more companies switching to the technology and deploying it over the Wide Area Network to provide faster communication on larger areas. The argument is based on the fact that the existing Internet network has evolved to a stage where it has many cables and routing equipment linked together. Most of these cables and equipment were originally designed for telephony networks and therefore lack the capacity for high speed data transmissions.

The technology will enable an individual or an organisation to rely on online applications, as the Internet speed would be fast.

Mr Moses Kemibaro, the director of Dotsavvy, (pictured right) talked to Okuttah Mark on this technology.

What is Grid technology?

Grid technology, which is also referred to as Grid Computing, involves using many standard computers in a network to act as if they are one computer to perform a specific function or task at the same time. This is normally done by using computer applications that are able to either centrally or independently distribute and manage computing resources.

Usually, Grid Computing is used in tasks that require large computer processing cycles or access to large amounts of data. Grid Computing is gaining wide adoption since it enables the utilisation of standard computers to achieve super computer performance when they are networked in the right way, and in large enough numbers, at much lower costs.

How is it different from the current desk top Internet technology being used world wide?

As opposed to single desktop or server computers performing distinct and separate computing functions, grid computing enables organizations to leverage their collective computing resources to act as one of specific functions or tasks. This means that lots of underutilized and idle computing power within the organisation can be harnessed to deliver faster results. An example is in areas such as financial markets analysis that requires significant computing power so that results that would take hours can be achieved in minutes.

How is it going to affect organizations and individual Internet users?

The advent of grid computing means that organisations will soon be able to utilise their existing computing resources more efficiently and effectively to improve overall organisational performance. At the same time, organisations and individuals alike will be able to utilise grid computing to access super computer like performance via external grid networks such as Google, Yahoo or Microsoft to achieve better individual and organisational performance.

This, to a smaller extent, is already happening with web-based productivity applications that all these companies offer today on the web.

Will this technology affect Google in anyway, if yes how and what is Google planning to do?

Google is already a pioneer and leader in the development, deployment and management of grid computing. They are extending their leadership even further by driving the sub-set of grid computing called cloud computing. Cloud computing, according to Wikipedia is an alternative to having local servers or personal devices handling users’ applications.

It is an idea that the technological capabilities should “hover” over everything and be available whenever a user wants. This is especially true of web-based applications such as Google Apps and Windows Live which conform to the cloud computing definition.

Are there any steps the government needs to put in place to ensure that Kenyans can benefit from this technology the moment it hits the market commercially?

Grid computing is already widely accessible with lots of information online on how to set-up, deploy and manage the technology. There are also leading ICT companies such as IBM and Sun Microsystems that have developed grid computing solutions, and there are also open source applications. .

Any risks involved with it?

Grid computing is fairly new as a computing approach. Therefore, at this juncture, there are no major known risks. However, as anything that is new, there are certainly security loop holes that will be found as it gains acceptance. The best thing is therefore to wait for standards to develop, as well as best practices and guidelines for deployment.

What does this mean to the future of Internet?

Grid computing will provide the underlying platform for cloud computing which is already seen as a major paradigm shift in how the Internet will evolve.

Grid computing will enable organizations and individuals to leverage superior computing resources online in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Organisations will be able to outsource their excess and underutilised computing power for a fee.

It will become easier to use applications that require high-end computing resources when its possible to harness an entire computer network instead of a couple of servers. The implications will inevitably be enormous.

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