In the nearest decades, personal computers, servers, local nets and the other things habitual to present specialists can disappear from use because computing and information service will turn into such facilities, as electrics and water supply now; and separate computers with multi-cores processors will dissolve in global information Grid infrastructure. In the beginning Grid technologies were destined for solving complicated scientific and engineer tasks which cannot be solved in reasonable time on separate computing devices. But field of application of Grid technologies doesn’t terminate only with these task types. With its development, Grid gets in industry and business, claiming to be the universal infrastructure for data processing, with a great number of services functioning in it (Grid Services), which not only permit to solve concrete applied tasks but also propose service on search of necessary resources, collecting information about the state of resources, data storage and delivery.

Informatization now entered the fourth stage of its development. The first one was connected with appearance of large computers (mainframes), the second one, with creation of personal computers, the third one, with appearance of Internet which united the users into the single information space by the means of common access to information. With beginning of 21st century began transition to new Grid technologies when already habitual Internet with its web service is being replaced by world Grid net as the means of common use of computational power and data storages. Grid permits to pass the limit of simple data exchange between the computers and in the course of time to turn their global net into gigantic virtual computer in its kind, available in distant access mode from any point, independently from user’s location.

It should be admitted that Grid ideas are not very wide known for now. But not so long ago (only eight—ten years ago) Internet and Web were also known only to narrow range of specialists. But in 2006 the number of Internet users exceeded one billion. Perhaps, in spite of the wish, it is hard to find a man who didn’t at least hear these words. There are reasons to consider, that in the course of time Grid will be as popular, too. Its present condition can be compared with Internet of 1997 year ‘pattern’, and we can admit that Grid potential and growth speed isn’t at any rate lower than they were then.

In literal translation Grid means “grating”. Agree that associations connected with this word in our language in no way correspond the meaning of free computer cooperation for high-productive computations, put in Grid technologies. The closest in meaning is, maybe, power grid, power of the net, distributed resource of common use, when everyone can easily connect socket and use any needed amount of electric energy. Analogically users by the help of Grid get the possibility of direct connection to remote computing net, not being interested in the question where computing resources and data necessary for work come from, which electric power transmission lines, passwords or protocols are used for this. At this, analogue of electrical net infrastructure (electric power transmission lines, substations, transformers, etc.) is Grid, intermediate program layer, or MiddleWare.


What Grid gives to scientists

Formally the authors of Grid conception are considered to be Ian Foster from Aragon National Laboratory of University of Chicago and Charles Kesselman from Institute of Informatics of University of South California. It were they who in 1998 for the first time proposed the term ‘Grid computing’ for the definition of universal hardware/software infrastructure which unites computers and supercomputers into territorially distributed information-computing system. After their definition, this has already become classic, ‘Grid is agreed, opened and standardized environment which provides flexible, safe, coordinated distribution of resources within virtual organization’. Usually the word ‘computing’ or ‘metacomputing’ is used there where systems of the highest level are built on the basis of separate computers. One can quite get used to this word (for automobilists got used to the word ‘tuning’, ecologists, to ‘monitoring’, sportsmen, to ‘diving’, and we together, to ‘shopping’). By the way, the word ‘computer’ itself also was introducing our language not without difficulties, having replaced combination of words ‘electronic computing device’, which is hard to translate. Thus, the word ‘computing’ too, as we can hope, will replace equivalent to it phrase ‘service on computing performance or data processing on computer’.

Grid computing is the new class of infrastructures, in which from remote resources it is built safe and scaling computing mechanism as part of computers, from tabletop ones and to supercomputers, program packets and input/output devices. At the root of Grid lie program technologies, which use new standards and protocols together with well-known net and Internet protocols. The time will show whether the name Grid is worth to be written in Cyrillic.

The idea of more effective use of computational powers by the means of uniting the great amount of computers into the single structure appeared in scientific society rather long ago, in the era of large computers. Even in 80-ies scientists (in the first turn, nuclear scientists) to solve complicated mathematical tasks were trying to unite resources of separate workstations and to use free resources of central processors to reduce the time of their data processing. The usual way of development of computing nets in organization is approximately the same. At first, small user group, which executes scientific or engineer research decides to unite its resources on the basis of simple rules and agreements. It can be easily made on the basis of software that is freely spread. The successful experience catches on, and soon the other user groups choose the same way. The number of such groups increases, and quite legal wish to exchange resources, filling free computational power, appears in them. Here it is already hard to be limited to simple agreements, it is necessary to introduce some technical means of account and ‘inter-settlements’.

Technology of controlling the distributed resources is one of the most important tasks. It is in the first turn aimed at providing information infrastructure control in conditions of load increment and increasing the number of net components. Work principles of the task control system are well known: there are waiting line, search of free resources, scheduling, politics and priorities. The net task control system was realized rather long ago, but the use of Grid technologies permits to build the system of controlling the distributed computing resources. In such situation it isn’t already important for user on which concrete net node his task is being performed; he or she simply consumes certain amount of virtual processor capacity, which is present in the net.

There are several reasons that encourage scientists to use Grid technologies.

First, often it is necessary to process the enormous data amount that is stored in different organizations (perhaps, situated in different parts of the world). The example can be the task of processing the Earth photos received from satellites.

Second, it is necessary to perform the enormous amount of computations during the research. For instance, when modeling the influence of thousands of molecules (of potential medicinal preparations) on albumens while searching medicine to cure certain disease.

Third, scientific team with members working in different corners of the world wants to use together large data stores, to perform their complex analysis quickly and interactively, to visualize and to discuss results on-line.

It is understandable that tasks being solved are of great importance for different fundamental scientific research and project works. Among such tasks there can be named exploration of evolution of protoplanet material, planets and the Earth; general meteorological forecast and prognosis of different natural disasters (tsunami, earthquakes, volcanic explosions); modeling and analysis of experiments in nuclear physics; research in nanotechnology sphere, design of aerocosmic devices and automobiles, DNA decoding and identification of proteins. Definitely, soon it will be easier to name the scientific science discipline that doesn’t use supercomputers and distributed computing. Among the key factors which favor Grid introducing, is not only the possibility of infrastructure flexible adaptation to new demands, but also increasing of effectiveness of use present computing and human resources, because, while working together on different projects, specialists use one and the same infrastructure.