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Distributed computing: The next step - Views on News from Equitymaster
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  • Dec 11, 2000

    Distributed computing: The next step

    What do Indian software companies have to do with searching for extraterrestrial life forms? Nothing but there is a big opportunity here. No, not in searching extra terrestrial life forms but in technology that is at the heart of the project - distributed computing.

    SETI, which stands for search for extra terrestrial intelligence, is a project that is quite unique. David Anderson launched the project to utilize the unused processing power of idle personal computers scattered around the Internet in May 1999. The PCs are linked using the Internet to process data of radio signals from space. The project, also known as SETIatHome, is the worlds distributed computing effort, involving 2 million computers in 226 countries. The project averages 12 teraflops, or 12 trillion floating operations per second, compared with a supercomputer that can run at 3 teraflops.

    The concept is fast becoming a very lucrative business opportunity. It is pure common sense and a lot of technology. 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. The end user does not know where the job is getting done. Whenever a task is submitted the distributed operating system looks for resources that are idle and gets the job done.

    The benefits
    Reuse of hardware and software thus cutting down costs.
    Reduced complexity of application development by enabling
    the assembly of applications from reusable objects.
    Faster development of sophisticated enterprise applications
    to make businesses more responsive to market changes.
    Higher scalability and performance of applications that make
    employees more productive even when dealing with large
    volumes of users, data, and transactions.
    Cross-platform support and support for open industry
    standards, which support open enterprise integration.
    Easier management of applications ensuring
    reliability and availability.

    With the time to market reducing consistently, organisations are increasingly relying on information technology to provide the cutting edge. As a result today organisations are struggling to manage complex systems that comprise of a variety of hardware, software and networking. Obviously the need is for systems that are flexible, scalable and robust. They cannot go on spending on system that are disparate and spend even more trying to integrate them. And there lies the opportunity for distributed computing.

    The biggest impact of distributed computing will be a reconsideration of traditional networks and computing architectures. This would mean lesser investment in powerful machines that are very expensive and using already existing hardware resource. Thanks to distributed computing, which will break down network infrastructure into smaller, application-specific parts, reliance on larger servers will decrease. Interoperability, which translates into ease of integration, is the other attractive feature for distributed computing which includes technologies like CORBA and Java, which support open enterprise integration.

    With the end user organisations having a taste of information technology, IT strategies to come are going to be more thought of rather than quick fix. Already we are seeing offshoots of distributed computing being put into use. This is known as gird computing or more popularly P2P (Peer to Peer). An example is Napster that provides access to files from hard drives of others.

    Distributed computing is here is stay and is going to be the next fad that will drive the revenues of IT companies the future. Its time our companies gave a thought to the idea.



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