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How To Approach Setting Up A Grid Computing Environment

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Grid technologies consist of the combined power of computer servers, networks and storage over a distributed infrastructure. Standards must be implemented in order for such a scheme to work successfully. A grid comprises the coordination of distributed resources, general purpose protocols and interfaces. A high quality of service should be in place to ensure the grid runs smoothly. From a user’s perspective a good grid system works in a transparent fashion and should be considered as a single environment.
Allocate and remove pools of servers and input/output (I/O) communications as a service, by using grid management software. One of the advantages of grid computing is that servers and other resources can be allocated speedily and removed in the same fashion. Grid management software should allow this to occur automatically. Grid software is now a critical element in some countries for managing huge infrastructures (see Resources).
Provide access to networks and databases. Organizations need to be able to access each other's networks and databases. Fast connections via grid services should provide a high level of service availability between sites. This will require the services of database administrators (DBA's) and network specialists. IT consultants will also need to be involved in the various stages of the process.
Use virtual computing. An alternative method of setting up a small computing grid is to allocate virtual computing services. Although I/O and storage resources can be independently allocated as single entities, it is possible to offer whole computing packages in the form of hardware and software to provide a “virtualized” computing environment. Virtual computing environments can be rented to specific configurations depending on requirements (see References).
Employ relevant resources to integrate all the systems as required, in addition to maintenance and improvements of the grid. Grids are huge complex and challenging IT environments, and must be designed, implemented and integrated correctly. One failure to correctly coordinate a grid could result in a failure of the whole system. IT consultants, support services, hardware and software suppliers and various business experts will need to be employed in the process.
Be methodical. There are numerous IT methodologies to implement systems as large as a computing grid depending on business needs. One of these is Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method (SSADM). Others are the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM). A methodology is a set of rules and procedures provided to implement large IT projects such as a grid installation. There are project methodologies for large and small tasks, but SSADM and DSDM are amongst the likely candidates to provide guidance for a grid infrastructure and how it is implemented.
Grid computing is not for the faint hearted. It requires sound IT knowledge, and even then it should only be done with relevant experts involved in the process, especially in large infrastructures. This article serves to provide an overview of the process and nothing more, but hopefully it will provide an insight into the complexity of the task and what you will need to consider.


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