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Data grids for storage

Ezine

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Commercial grids
There are many commercial grid systems available today. Some of the better known include IBM's grid offerings, Sun's N1 Grid Engine, Oracle's 10g and a new offering from a partnership between SGI and YottaYotta.

One of the advantages of commercial packages is that you don't have to rely on the open-source community for support and vendors can provide installation services. Also, most vendor grid offerings are more tightly integrated with other commercial products. Some vendor products may also provide better scalability, reliability and serviceability than open-source versions.

IBM's DataSynapse is fully interoperable with current grid standards. By following Global Grid Forum (GGF) standards, you could plug your IBM compute grid into any grid around the world that supports these standards. IBM claims its grid allows for better throughput and more parallel computation than what's available from open-source grid products.

Sun's N1 Grid Engine (SGE) also provides a standards-compliant compute grid service. GGF-compliant Globus Toolkit version 4.0 (GT4) services can be used to submit jobs to an SGE grid.

Although proprietary and specific to databases, Oracle 10g is probably closest to a data grid among commercial products. 10g supports transportable tablespaces that can be used to move tablespaces among remote databases. Moving tablespaces around could improve performance

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for remote sites accessing the data. By moving a tablespace, you can free up local database space; tablespaces can also be mounted as read-only to a number of databases. 10g supports "federated databases" that use distributed SQL and gateways to other databases to provide clients with a single, unified view of multiple databases.

SGI/YottaYotta's offering provides another kind of data grid service using proprietary hardware, software and internode protocols. With the new SGI CXFS and YottaYotta's NetStorager appliance, you can have multiple sites that each have a clustered file system (SGI CXFS) to share and replicate data throughout the WAN at SAN speeds with replication directories maintained automatically. SGI and YottaYotta say they've demonstrated a CXFS cluster reading and writing to a shared file across 2,900 miles at approximately 700MB/sec.

Implementation steps

Grid web sites
Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE)
www.eu-egee.org/

Earth System Grid (ESG)
www.earthsystemgrid.org/

Globus Alliance
www.globus.org/

Global Grid Forum (GGF)
www.gridforum.org/

As a first step toward using data grids, corporate IT departments might consider implementing GridFTP with security services (see "Implementing Globus data grid services"). Any company that has a lot of FTP activity might consider using this to authenticate FTP access automatically and to provide for more efficient file data transfers. If the GridFTP implementation proves helpful, the next step may be to support a Replica Location Service database of replicated data to identify where duplicated data might be found.

For organizations running compute-intensive applications such as video rendering, seismic analysis or protein modeling, using a Condor-G compute grid would allow their local compute cluster to make use of other collaborating sites throughout the world.

This was first published in October 2005

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