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"That's not Grid!" - A cautionary tale

I don't usually attempt humour here, but see if you like this...

Once upon a time, in the far-off world of Computerland, a great guru arose and declared a vision.

"I see a future when all computers will be linked together and people will run their programs without knowing which computers are running them. People do not need to know where their jobs run; they just need the results. I call this Grid Computing!"

The people of Computerland were excited by the guru's vision. They went away and worked to make it happen. When they were ready, they returned to the guru and said:

"Oh great guru! We have implemented your vision. We can run our programs on whichever processor is free at the time, making sure that all programs can run and making best use of all our processors. No longer does one computer sit idle while another one is overloaded. Your vision is a great success!"

"No, no, no!", said the guru, "That's not Grid!"

The guru explained, "What you have implemented is just cluster computing. Grid computing is about linking machines that are administered separately".

The people of Computerland were excited by the guru's vision. They went away and worked to make it happen. When they were ready, they returned to the guru and said:

"Oh great guru! We have implemented your vision. We can run our jobs on all the desktop PC's of the world. We have run the biggest climate model ever and we have used it to find new drugs against deadly diseases. Your vision is a great success!"

"No, no, no!", said the guru, "That's not Grid!"

The guru explained, "What you have implemented is just cycle-stealing. Grid computing is about making computing power available on demand; a utility similar to water or electricity. It's not just about using spare capacity".

The people of Computerland were excited by the guru's vision. They went away and worked to make it happen. When they were ready, they returned to the guru and said:

"Oh great guru! We have implemented your vision. People can buy processor time and disk space when they need it. Our computer resources are available to anyone who can pay. Your vision is a great success!"

"No, no, no!", said the guru, "That's not Grid!"

The guru explained, "What you have implemented is just utility computing. Grid computing is about linking many distributed resources to address a single problem".

The people of Computerland were excited by the guru's vision. They went away and worked to make it happen. When they were ready, they returned to the guru and said:

"Oh great guru! We have implemented your vision. People provide their programs as services using standard protocols. Then users can combine these services in new and unforeseen ways using scripts or workflows. Our businesses are more efficient and agile. Our scientists have made new discoveries. Your vision is a great success!"

"No, no, no!", said the guru, "That's not Grid!"

The guru explained, "What you have implemented is just service-oriented architecture. Grid computing is about common information and management protocols so distributed resources can be tightly co-ordinated".

"Oh!", said the people, "But we have already revolutionised our business methods, increased our agility and resource utilisation, put our previously wasted computer power to good use, provided computer power to people who need it, produced new science and found new ways of working together. We don't need anything more".

With that, the people stopped the guru's research grant and forced him into a life of giving keynote speeches on the conference circuit.

Moral: Don't define yourself out of success.

(Disclaimer: Given the opportunities for misunderstanding on the internet, I feel I have to stress that this is not aimed at any particular individuals).

Comments

Ravi said…
Thats very subtle..I especially like the disclaimer you had at the end of the article.. I had a fleeting suspicion who it was but not after reading the disclaimer. Good work Dave.
Dan Ciruli said…
subscribed!
Dick said…
brilliant!

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