Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Que es mas macho, BlueGene o EGEE? (*)

I just read in Supercomputingonline about EGEE III, the 3rd phase of the gigantic Grid Computing project:

"EGEE-III will last for 24 months, with a total manpower bid of almost 10,000 person months and an EC budget of Euro 36 million. As with EGEE-II, partners will provide extra effort to the project beyond that funded by the EC, bringing the total project budget up to Euro 70 million, and also contributing a further estimated Euro 50 million worth of computing resources."

and I ask myself what is more justified, a single extended 3PFLOPs BlueGene/P with 884,736-processors or thousands of various kinds of old 32 bit boxes distributed all over the world running Scientific Linux 3.0.X and gLite?

For years we were told that no single data center site will be able to cope with a few PB of data per year that will be produced by the LHC; Nice Powerpoint presentations showed a 20km tower of CDROMs, higher than the Mt. Blanc, indicating that only distributed Grid Computing environment will save us from a catastrophe.

Perhaps it is time to ask, in the spirit of Byron Katie's book Loving What Is, her four questions
  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?
And please consider this: I still love Grid Computing!


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*Inspired by the lyrics from Laurie Anderson's song, SmokeRings: "Que es mas macho, pineapple o knife?"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The End of Grid Computing?

In the year 2003 the MIT Technology review ranked "Grid Computing" among the 10 Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World [1].
We are now four years later and something is not going well with "Grid Computing".
An indication that there is a problem can easily be seen by looking at the "Google Trends" plot for the term "Grid Computing":


(click on the image to get the current trend).
This finding can be compared with another buzz word, "Virtualization", which is older than "Grid Computing" and yet is gaining more and more momentum:


There is however one exception. The Academic Grid is still having lot's of glory thanks to the huge heavily funded European (EGEE) and other US projects. When LHC data will start to be taken at CERN it will reach it's top importance. But, it seems that for other scientific projects Grid Computing is not going to be such a success. It will remain as "Nice to have" but will never replace High-Performance Computing (HPC) on one hand and classical distributed computing tools such as Condor [2] which exists for more than 20 years on the other hand.
Once the governmental fundings will be removed then all the hype of the academic Grid Computing will decline very quickly as well.
As was pointed in an interesting talk by Fabrizio Gagliardi about the future of grid computing, at the GridKa07 School, other kinds of Grid Computing infrastructures that will stand on stable financial ground may emerge as the successors, for example Amazon's S3 and EC2 and the joint IBM and Google's cloud computing.



[1] http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/13060/page6/

[2] http://www.cs.wisc.edu/condor