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Grid and Bear It - The Five Watchwords of Grid Architecture



IBM's Steven Beckhardt likens effective grid computing to electricity: "It's reliable, consistent, and you can get it from anywhere." To turn the ideal into reality, he and MCNC's Thom Dunning offer grid architects five words to live by:


1. UNIFORMITY:
All resources and data should appear to come from the same source even when they don't. Beckhardt refers back to his electrical utility analogy, saying, "When you plug into the wall, you don't know if the power is coming from PG&E or Con Edison."


2. TRANSPARENCY:
Researchers should be able to manipulate all of the data available on the grid regardless of the source. In other words, data in different formats and file types should be integrated into a virtual database.


3. RELIABILITY:
The grid should almost always be available. Think fault tolerance and redundancy. Achieving this requires robust storage, multiple power sources, and sophisticated networking.


4. PERVASIVENESS: 
Resources connected to the grid should be available to as many people as possible — a tremendous challenge given the range of platforms and operating systems employed by intended BioGrid users.


5. SECURITY:
If the databases contain intellectual property, they must be protected. Beckhardt says that a tendency among early grid efforts to neglect data security "has to be resolved before [grid computing] becomes a commercial reality."



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