This month, grid computing moved further toward the commercial mainstream when the Globus Project released new software tools that blend the grid standards with a programming technology called Web services, developed mainly in corporate labs, for automated computer-to-computer communications.
The long-term grid vision is that anyone with a desktop machine or hand-held computer can have the power of a supercomputer at his or her fingertips. And small groups with shared interests could find answers to computationally complex problems as never before.
Imagine, for example, a handful of concerned citizens running their own simulation of the environmental impact of a proposed real-estate development in their community. They wouldn’t need their own data center or consultants. They would describe what they want, and intelligent software would find the relevant data and summon the computing resources needed for the simulation.
The grid is widely regarded as the next stage for the Internet after the World Wide Web. The Web is the Internet’s multimedia retrieval system, providing access to text, images, music and video. The promise of the grid is to add a problem-solving system.