Clusters, Grids, and Clouds what's the difference. In a word, plenty. Learn about the Globus Grid Project and HPC Cloud computing. They both offer the user a "cluster", but they are not the same.

Certificates and Globus Toolkit Security

The Grid extends the concept of a cluster to a more heterogeneous environment, where control and management of different clusters and systems are often the responsibility of entirely different organizations. The standard security mechanisms for clusters (such as standard Unix accounts, passwords, and other administrator controls) do not scale to environments managed by different organizations. Thus, security mechanisms must be devised that still provide the appropriate levels of access and control but can be managed in a distributed manner.

An Infrastructure for Resource Sharing

Everyday millions of people click on hyperlinks without knowing the source of the information they are about to view. Insulated from the physical location of the data, the user just clicks and the protocols do the rest. The Globus Toolkit® is designed to the same kind of thing only instead of linking users to data, Globus will link users to computational resources. Just as you do not know (or care) where your electricity was generated, so it may be with your computing cycles.

Grid computing holds great promise for the HPC cluster community. It is not intended to replace clusters nor will it turn every corporate LAN into a top500 cluster. Indeed, clusters may very well become the powerplants of the computational Grid.

GT4: There is something for everybody

At the time this column was written, Globus Toolkit™ version 4.0 (hereafter referred to as "GT4") is scheduled for official release in April 2005. The GT4 release cycle has consumed more than a year of effort from the Globus Toolkit development team, a collaboration of open source developers that includes employees of the core member organizations of the Globus Alliance as well as numerous individuals from other organizations. After several schedule "slips," a reasonable question you may ask is, "What took them so long, and what's in it for me?"


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