The Many Faces of Project GRID

In the world of computing, nothing can be nailed down. The Internet is being pulled in many directions by many people. Which direction it leads is uncertain, but there is room for a computing grid in all of them.

Network Computer (NC)

Network Computers pick up on the thread of computing that was around before the PC came out: doing work on a remote, complex machine with a simple terminal to display things locally. This proposed future is most like our current electric grids, huge plants generating resources which are (eventually) distributed to small appliances. In this case, sharing of resources would be more like the current electric grid as well, with the big companies buying and selling resources to one another.

Personal Computer (PC)

The wide-spread use of PCs sets up a future that would be more akin to every house having a windmill or solar panels to generate their own electricity, long before someone decided to start an electric company. With such a vast number of independent resources, coordination is the most important task. It is possible that some company will come along and offer to purchase excess computing resources, much like electric companies do with homes that generate more electricity than they use, but there is currently a greater effort to share those resources among peers with a common interest.

Portable Distributed Objects (PDO)

It is often useful to share data on one computer with a number of processes, often making that data available to different computers as well. There are a number of solutionsthat currently address this problem including databases, client/server architectures, remote procedure calls, etc. At a level of abstraction above those solutions is PDO, where data and procedures that operate on the data are seamlessly made available either over a network or stored on a disk. This technology is independent of the NC or PC futures, and offers clear advantages to both. New worlds of computing are opened up when the user can manipulate all kinds of data as though it were immediately available in RAM.

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