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RE: Grid

From: Odland, Brad <>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 11:24:27 -0800
Message-ID: <>

Commoditizing of IT resources, hardware, software, people requires reducing the level of maintenance and knowledge required. A "grid" does just that. The concept of a grid is to still function with the loss of one or more members and can incorporate new resources easily.

The electrical power grid is an example of a grid network. Unfortunately as we have seen the system is vulnerable to a catastrophic failure that was hidden from view. The system we believed to be flexible and capable of modifying itself was unable to cope with the level of change and demands on the system. The result was complete collapse of a large portion of the system leaving millions without electricity. We should remember and learn from failures such as this. Unfortunately, history has shown that our collective memory is only the span of one generation. We continue to repeated the same misery and mayhem over and over again.

Looking into the future one can theorize on the implications of distributed grid infrastructure on computing. Suddenly the control and flexibility of computing will be removed from the individual and placed in the hands of a monolithic provider. Computing will become a utility that is metered and paid for.

Microsoft has long been an advocate for pay for use software. Oracle and Microsoft are aligning their business to exploit the ability of metered software/hardware billing. Grid computing infrastructure will provide this ability.

Is the is answer that people are looking for? Maybe. With software and hardware purchasing decisions taken out of the hands of the business and individual internal resources could be free to use the "brain" power spent on index rebuilds, backups, patching and other routine maintenance on something more advantageous or devious.

We have seen this in some recent sci-fi movies. Blade Runner, Minority Report, Seventh Sign, AI and even Terminator displayed the possible impact of a grid computing infrastructure on society. For many, including my self, it was disturbing. Inevitably the local processor of a computer will be come so powerful that future improvements to that processor will become unnecessary. The key to increasing power of a grid system will be to add more processors. The speed of development in processor technology will reach a point very soon where the grid will become a reality.

Already our culture is changing to accept this reality. The lust we have for information will drive the desire to extend the internet beyond a simple information super highway* into the information super computer grid. We will no longer wish to have simple access to information we will want it to be processed, stored, manipulated and delivered by the same system.

Those of us steeped in the daily throws of technological nirvana sometimes fail to look ahead to the implications and effects of technology on our lives. Grid computing is one of those technologies that once unleashed may never be able to be controlled. The potential for abuse and profit is as great as the benefits to humanity that we can imagine.

Grid computing is quite compelling. We have always taken our inventions improved them made access to them easy and in essence taken the wonder out of them. Pause to reflect that many of our Grandparents were the first generation to experince running hot water, the glow of a light bulb or the crackle of a voice over the telephone.

It will be important to be vigilant with security, privacy and ethics as we begin to implement "grids" in our own computing environments. The failure to do so could result in things more unpleasant than simple worms or annoying spam in the future.

*Wow...How long has it been since anyone used those three words...?

(listening to too much ambient music lately)

Brad O.

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Author: Odland, Brad

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Received on Wed Aug 27 2003 - 14:24:27 CDT

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