GRIDtoday Article on the Open Grid Forum: Down-Under Dialogue

It’s heartening for me, and for Grid Computing, to learn that my GRIDtoday article sparked some dialogue down-under on the Link list “… an email discussion list for people interested in the development of the internet in Australia …”

In a message dated 16 July 2006, with subject “CERN drives Grid computing, needs volunteers”, Stephen Loosley makes a number of points that I’ll respond to here:

  • The title and the first paragraph (“Although one expert claims they haven’t done enough, (http://www.gridtoday.com/grid/711859.html) CERN is working hard on the development of a world Grid.”) – I’m not sure who “they” refers to here, but I certainly didn’t intimate CERN. If on the other hand “they” refers to the cumulative standards community of GGF plus EGA, then I would agree that this is whom I intended. Having been quite close to this community, however, I’d be one of the last to state that “… they haven’t done enough …” The collective community is energetic and enthusiastic. And I would definitely argue that significant progress has been made. However, the progress that has been made has not resulted in significantly advancing Grid Computing as a separate and distinct area. In contrast, Web services has benefited by the efforts of the Grid community. (One example is the ongoing elaboration of WSDL as OGSI evolved to WSRF.) Finally, I’m not sure that CERN is developing a world grid, even though they remain active in Grid Computing through a number of projects. (This point is stated later in Mr. Loosley’s posting.)
  • The second paragraph (“The problem appears to be the lack of commercial apps driving grid-computing development. We need Grids :-)”) – I agree that Grid Computing needs commercial applications, deployed grids, and other outcomes. However, such exemplars need to clearly showcase the value proposition of Grid Computing. Furthermore, to showcase value propositions that are unique to Grid Computing and also significant. As I wrote in the GRIDtoday article, “Grid computing sorely needs to deliver definitive outcomes that really matter.” I also appreciated the way that the Globus Consortium’s Greg Nawrocki interpreted the message of my GRIDtoday article, and the suggestions he made as to what’s needed. (Mr. Loosley refers to Nawrocki’s blog entry in a follow-up posting to Link.)
  • More on CERN and Grid Computing – Mr. Loosley quotes extensively from the Grid @ CERN page. The last paragraph on this page states that “… CERN has taken a big gamble on Grid technology, and is pushing the technology forward in several ways, in order to make the 2007 deadline for the LHC.” As someone who has worked with CERN itself and CERN collaborators, I am well aware of this gamble. The standards flux, that resulted in evolving variants of the Globus Toolkit, caused CERN and its affiliates some grief for at least two reasons.
    • First, projects like the LHC require significant advance planning. Evolving standards and implementations make advance planning even more challenging, and the allusions to gambling quite appropriate.
    • Second, despite the fact that CERN’s primary activity is academic research, CERN needs to provide a number of production-quality services. Again, such service levels are difficult to deliver on when standards and implementations are in a state of continuous change.
  • Current Volunteer @home public projects – Mr. Loosley closes his posting by listing a number of projects from one of the GridCafe Web pages. I somewhat disparagingly referred to the “… well-intentioned World Community Grid as technologically trivial …” and “… not the most sophisticated demonstration of Grid computing.” To make my point, I stand by this statement, and would add all of the @home public projects in exactly the same category. In contrast, what CERN is doing in developing a data-centric grid for the LHC is certainly not technologically trivial. It’s these latter examples like the LHC’s data grid that will allow Grid Computing “… to deliver definitive outcomes that really matter.”

As stated at the outset, I’m delighted to see people engaging in such dialogue on my GRIDtoday article, and Grid Computing in general.

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4 responses to “GRIDtoday Article on the Open Grid Forum: Down-Under Dialogue”

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