Jun 17, 2002|
Distributed computing: Rage catches on
Sometime back in December 2000, we had written about the emerging opportunity for the Indian software industry in the area of distributed computing. Well, if the events in the recent past are any measure, the opportunity only seems to be getting bigger.
Distributed computing is pure common sense and a lot of technology. Since computers are getting more and more networked, instead of using networks for just sharing information, the idea is to share other resources like memory and processing power. The philosophy is resource optimization. Suppose a user wants to perform a multiplication. He inputs the job into the computer. The distributed operating system looks for resources that are idle and gets the job executed. The end user does not even know where the job was executed. Thus, using the existing resources, very high processing speeds can be obtained simply by distributing the work among idle resources.
What has happened in the recent past is that most of the major technology firms like IBM, HP, Compaq and Sun have been increasingly talking about their efforts in distributed computing. This is due to the advantage the technology offers. For example, with storage increasingly being centralized in data centres the need is for high performance computers. Sunís computing solution to address this market called N1 is based on distributed computing as the building block. While N1 addresses a particular market segment, another project by Sun called JXTA is aimed at similarly connecting a host of devices. The effort is to create a standard for peer-to-peer networking (another name for distributed computing) and thus encourage development of new applications based on the technology.
Going by Napsterís success, the fact that technology has a significant value proposition has been well established. With efforts being directed by the technology majors to use any and every type of device for distributed computing, the number of potential users increases significantly. After all in the new economy the network effect is critical. A bunch of computers that are not connected have a limited use. But the moment they are networked the use grows exponentially. What will further aid the growth of peer-to-peer computing is the increasing availability of broadband. Consequently, distributed computing will be a dominant force to reckon with going forward.
The Indian software companies have historically and will continue to face rapid change in demand for service offerings. If in 1998 customers demanded services in the area of Y2K, in 2000 it was e-commerce that dominated. And in 2001, maintenance was one of the major growth areas for companies. Going forward, it seems that offerings in the area of distributed computing might see a strong surge in demand. Since not many companies give out the break up of revenues based on technology, it is very difficult to gauge the preparedness of the industry to meet requirements in this area. However, going by Infosys numbers technology majors already seem to be clued in. In FY02, the company earned 49% of its revenues from distributed systems. The industry as a whole needs to recognize the changing trends in technology and be prepared to meet surge in demand as a consequence of organisations increasingly adopting distributed systems.
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