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developerWorks: OptimalGrid--Autonomic Computing on the Grid

Jun 10, 2003, 07:00 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by James H. Kaufman, Tobin J. Lehman, Glenn Deen, John Thomas)

"Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the area of Grid computing, a way to enlist large numbers of (usually) heterogeneous machines to work on a multipart problem. In order to take full advantage of the enormous opportunities presented by the advent of Grid computing, use of the grid must become simple. Developers should be able to create grid-enabled parallel applications without, themselves, becoming experts in grid or high performance computing. Also, grid applications (or even larger grid systems) should be able to reconfigure both themselves and the resources they use in response to dynamic changes in the grid environment.

"Early grid systems, such as CONDOR or SETI@home, provided the functionality to perform remote execution of program pieces over tens, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of machines. While this provides an excellent foundation for Grid and distributed computing, more functionality is needed. CONDOR and SETI@home are examples of systems that support independently parallel problems, where each problem piece can be computed independently. These systems lack the ability to manage connected problems where the problem pieces are inter-related. They do not provide for sophisticated management of the problem pieces, account for correlations between problem pieces, provide a representation of problem piece requirements, nor do they adapt the problem itself to dynamic changes in available computing resources.

"OptimalGrid is an attempt to simplify the creation and management of connected parallel applications on the grid. It is not a toolkit; it is a self-contained middleware that provides a grid-enabled collaboration framework and problem-solving environment. It is a layer between the OGSI infrastructure provided by Globus and applications that require distribution of interconnected problems on a grid. OptimalGrid will run on almost any grid infrastructure, requiring only that a Java runtime be installed on networked machines. It is designed to optimize performance to make the most of an existing grid infrastructure. This article provides a high-level overview of the major OptimalGrid components and describes architecture for a general interest audience. A companion tutorial provides more detailed information for developers who want to understand how to use OptimalGrid..."

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