Feature - AssessGrid: taking the gamble out of grid decisions
Grid technology still makes people nervous: perhaps it's fear of the unknown and fear of the unreliable.
Yet more and more people agree that shared computing resources look like the way of the future; thus to promote acceptance of grid technology, the grid community needs a way to promote security and trust.
One approach will be projects like AssessGrid.
An algorithm of risk
"Our middleware adds a 'risk algorithm' to the architecture of a grid," says Mélanie Biette, "enabling us to calculate security, trustworthiness and dependability."
In this way, explains Biette, AssessGrid can help improve the confidence of grid service providers and end users adopting grid technology, perhaps encouraging the adoption of Service Level Agreements.
Often, to form a business relationship, providers and customers agree on an SLA, which guarantees the priority, quality and availability of the service.
Grid providers tend to be cautious about agreeing to SLAs, which are often perceived as risky. System failure, operator unavailability, or any number of unforeseen hiccups can lead to an SLA violation, resulting in penalty fees.
Weighing your options
Stepping into this uncertainty to provide the confidence of an informed decision is AssessGrid, whose middleware both estimates your risk and provides measured advice on managing it.
For end users, this means more transparent SLAs: users will be able to compare different price-risk combinations and determine whether a particular risk is acceptable for their specific job.
For example, users whose applications demand absolute reliability can choose a provider offering a low risk of system failure, while those who don't require such reliability can opt for a higher risk solution, with a lower price tag.
AssessGrid will also provide users with access to statistics that compare the offered risks with SLA fulfillments.
The end result? Users will be able to evaluate providers more objectively.
AssessGrid can also help grid service providers take advantage of modern risk management, by highlighting the potential benefits of risks. Risk, says Biette, can also be a positive force, since opportunities are created where some providers may shy away from possible dangers.
AssessGrid already has a working middleware prototype and they expect to release a production version in 2009.
By this time, Biette believes the project will be close to one of their long-term objectives: providing the grid community with a brokerage service.
"The AssessGrid resource broker is very efficient in utility computing scenarios," she says. "Having an intermediate to consult on risk, quality of service, and price will be very valuable to the community."
AssessGrid is a European Commission funded project involving seven separate institutions.
- Danielle Venton, iSGTW