Now Complete, Grid Computing Spec is Proposed

While an exciting technology for software developers, grid computing
— which entails the application of the
resources
of many computers to a single problem at the same time – is hardly a
solid
or secure one. Myriad standards are being worked through by
organizations,
such as the Global Grid Forum,
actually implementing them is a ways off.


The grid computing space Tuesday took a sizeable step forward in its quest to get a grid
computing standard developed when it said a working group has completed the first
specification of a schema that makes the creation and dispersal of high-performance grid
applications possible.


The final publication of the working draft version of the Distributed Resource Management Application
API
(DRMAA) (pronounced like “drama”) was announced at the Global
Grid
Forum 7 show in Tokyo. DRMAA features “write-once” capabilities to any
DRM
system that supports DRMAA, and makes it possible for new enterprise
and
technical applications to be used in a grid environment. Co-chaired by
Sun Microsystems
and Intel, DRMAA was developed with other vendors, including Cadence
Design
Systems, HP, IBM, Platform Computing, Robarts Research Institute and
Veridian Systems.


DRMAA, according to Peter Jeffcock, Sun Group Marketing Manager for
Grid
Computing, will expand the reach of grid computing because it will make
it
easier for independent software vendors to make and promote grid
computing
applications.


Jeffcock told internetnews.com the specification provides for
the
submission and control of duties to one or more DRM systems — think
Sun’s
Grid One Engine or Intel’s OSCAR — letting the developers of
applications
employ a virtualized grid of computing resources — as opposed to a
single
computer system — as the main application execution environment.
Simply,
this mean new pieces of software can more easily be written. Users
could
also monitor, control retrieve finished data or even destroy it.


DRMAA eliminates a problem currently facing commercial software
developers,
namely proprietary interfaces that make integrating applications with
DRM
systems a chore. End users should also benefit from new powerful
applications capable of putting the power of grid computing at their
fingertips.


Jeffcock said DRMAA provides a standard on which ISVs can create new
applications to run in distributed environments using a “write-once”
interface; makes grid deployment and management easier for systems
administrators; and paves the way for more sophisticated applications
for
end users.


The potential impact of DRMAA is more interesting on a practical plane.
Jeffcock used the example of car design, where trying to find the
perfect
balance of strength and weight in a metal component of an automobile is
vital.


“In the course of design, an engineer might recognize a trade off
between
the strength and the weight of the piece,” Jeffcock said. “Computers
using
DRMAA could perform a stochastic analysis, or tests to make it thicker
or
wider, and measure the way it buckles under stress. From that they
could
derive the exact trade off point at which they wouldn’t be sacrificing
too
much strength or weight to produce the balance necessary for the part.
Rather than a user using a grid to calculate this, the computer would
do it
intuitively.”


Jeffcock said DRMAA joins other grid computing-oriented specs, such as
Open
Grid Services Infrastructure (OGSI), as schemas that have yet to reach
fruition. He also said compared to other grid specs in the works, DRMAA
stands a better chance of passing muster because of its extremely tight
focus.


If DRMAA successfully negotiates a 60-day review period by the Global
Grid
Forum steering committee and the grid computing community, the item
becomes
a proposed Grid Forum document that is then subject to anywhere from
six to
20 months of scrutiny by people who can implement and use it. When that
period is over, it is officially a document, or standard.


Sun plans to create a reference implementation of the DRMAA
specification in
the Grid Engine open source project, which can be accessed here after the working draft
passes muster.

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