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Book : HPC, Grid, Data Grid, Virtualisation and Cloud Computing

Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | No Comments

Getting into the cloud means seeking out sources of background information. I recently came across the book "HPC, Grid, Data Grid, Virtualisation and Cloud Computing" by Adam Vile and James Liddle. It is published as a Savvy Guide To which you order on demand via Lulu. I have picked up a few books via Lulu recently and recommend their service.

The book is 177 pages long and is a nice quick read. The chapters detail out a particular segment of the market and cover:

  • HPC
  • Grid
  • Distributed Data Caching and Datagrid
  • Virtualisation and Orchestration
  • Clouds on the Horizon
There is also a glossary, recommended reading list and an index.

The information is not too technical (no pages of formulas) and provides a good grounding for where the current state of Cloud has grown from. When someone asks you, "Well isn't todays Cloud just a form of Grid computing?" you can probably give a much better answer after reading this book. There is even a section on this topic, "Are Cloud and Grid the same" on page 133 - 135.

The section on Virtualisation was okay. However does a book set at this level need to describe what VMware Workstation and VMware GSX Server is? However it does mention and discuss vCloud, but don't expect it to reveal any deep details that are not in other sources.

For a taste, here is some of the text I highlighted whilst reading.
  • A grid can be thought of as a general computing resource in which different nodes of the grid work, in parallel, on computational tasks that have been broken down by the grid management software and farmed out using the grid scheduler.
  • Grid can be thought of as a virtualisation technology. [...] One way of thinking about the difference is to see Grid as enabling many processors to behave as one, and virtualistion enabling one processor to behave as many.
  • Cloud computing is essentially distributed computing that is built using services distributed over multiple locations. The services are typically delivered using a Grid or a cluster as a resource. Public clouds are hosted by companies such as Amazon and private clouds are typically specialised offerings that organisations build which adopt the technologies and practices of private cloud infrastructures, albeit with additional security.
  • The aims of Cloud match closely the original vision for Grid, and a convergence is inevitable.
  • We feel that HPC, Grid and Virtualisation have now crossed the chasm. Cloud is growing as a concept and it is only a matter of time, driven by competitiveness and economies at scale, that it too leaps the chasm.
  • Virtualisation is now being used successfully in production systems and is not not only a viable alternative, but, in some cases, is the only way to create the scale, flexibility and value required of the physical environment.
  • For the enterprise Orchestration and Virtualiastion go hand in hand.
  • VMware vCloud has a concept of vApps which could contain one or more virtual machines.
  • From a Grid persepctive virtualisation standards can only be a good thing as they protect from vendor lock in and make migration and mixed utilisation easier.
  • For grid computing to take hold on broader scale there is a need for a new layer of federated abstraction for coordinating all the connected pieces of hardware and a simple interface that hides the network's complexities from users. These are the ambitious standards that Citrix, VMware and a host of other vendors have set themselves to achieve.
  • On clouds It is this scalable or elastic nature of the clouds and the ability to be able to do this on demand that has attracted the attention of everyone from startup's to blue chip enterprises.
  • With most Grid and HPC applications being run inside of private data centers, and many already using virtualisation, the vCloud offering looks set to have a major impact on these environments, [...]
  • According to Gartner, private cloud Infrastructures are the future of IT.
  • According to Gartner this is much more suited to organisations real need for cloud right now because not everybody is ready to move wholesale to the cloud and many companies, whatever the size, will prefer a hybrid approach.
Of course the real meat is in the book, so if you have liked what you have read here and are wanting to know more about the earlier generations of Cloud and the wider HPC and Grid computing space then go order your copy. Enjoy.


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