Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another Night with GridGain

Earlier this evening, I had a chance to attend a presentation on GridGain at this month's NYC JavaSIG at the Google Engineering building here in New York City, NY, US. I've written about GridGain before, but if you haven't read my thoughts on it, I'll sum it up; I'm a fan.

I got a chance to talk to Nikita Ivanov, if only briefly. Nice enough guy. What I like about his presentation most is the lack of - and there's probably no other way to really say it - bullshit. Sure, he uses words like grid and cloud which is always suspect, but in this case, he provides an actual, single slide, definition of what it means to him and GridGain.

Grid Computing = Compute Grid + Data Grid

Makes sense if the terms compute grid and data grid mean something to you. Nikita seems to stick to (what I think is) the standard definition of a data grid - a network of data storage machines containing partitioned or distributed storage. I'm paraphrasing a bit here, but mostly because I don't recall his exact wording. The compute grid portion of that should be obvious. I'm not providing any hints on that one.

Cloud computing is defined by Ivanov as follows.

Cloud Computing = Grid Computing + Data Center Automation

This is also simple and concise. So we get grid computing; at least in the context of GridGain. Data center automation, in this case (and Ivanov's opinion) covers not just the normal stuff, but specifically the creation and shutdown of instances of machines. This is generally stuck behind an API such as Amazon's EC2 and related services with the goal that one can have a greater degree of flexibility. While I'm not really in love with EC2 as some others may be (not referring to Ivanov, specifically, just the sometimes expressed idea that EC2 is solution to all woes) it is a readily available cloud environment that one can play with. I'm glad it exists.

A panacea? Of course not. Honestly, what could be, short of a super code-monkey falling from the sky to do your evil bidding? Ok, maybe an intern.

The point, I think, is that this kind of functionality - the ability to perform massive, distributed, parallelized computing without six-plus figures worth of hardware and software - is both simple and significant.

As usual, no grand epiphany here on my part... just some commentary on one of the areas where we can push performance in real world applications. That, of course, being something we should always be looking to do. Thanks to GridGain, Ivanov, NY JavaSIG, Google, the JavaSIG sponsors, and my employers for not getting annoyed that I suckered my team into cutting out early to go to the event.

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