iSGTW Feature - Grids and clouds

Feature - Grids and Clouds: GridBriefing just released

Image courtesy of GridTalk

So, we've all heard about clouds and grids. But what are the pluses and minuses of each approach? For that matter, just what exactly is a "cloud?" A just-published paper goes into this and more, with comparisons of grid computing and cloud computing.

Written by former iSGTW editor Cristy Burne (now of GridTalk) and available as a GridBriefing at the GridTalk website, the four-page document dissects the benefits and drawbacks of each approach, and draws upon opinions and sources as diverse as Hewlett Packard and the European Software Association. There is also a quick-reference chart that goes into such meat-and-potatoes issues as:

  • Who provides the service?
  • Who uses the service?
  • Who pays for it?
  • Where are the computing resources?
  • Why use them?
  • What are they useful for?
  • How do they work?

Grids and clouds, side-by-side. Click image to read chart. Image courtesy GridTalk.


The GridBriefing has pointers to further essays and studies of grids and clouds, including a new, invaluable, much longer, e-Infrastructure ReflectionGroup (e-IRG) White Paper, written by Fotis Karagiannis of the Athens University of Economy and Business. The White Paper is in public consultation phase from now until 6 March, and the author is asking people to read it and send in comment to their archive, or to fkara at

Seven topics were selected and examined in-depth in the document: Grid and cloud computing, Security, Education and training, Global
collaboration, Sustainability of the computing-related e-Infrastructure, Remote instrumentation, and Virtualization.

These hot topics were chosen after several rounds of consultation with experts belonging to the e-Infrastructure community, and were presented
to the e-IRG delegates at the e-IRG workshop in April 2008, in Zurich.

The initial reactions of cloud bloggers such as Markus Klems ("Cloudy Times: Random Thoughts of Markus Klems") are positive, saying: "Instead of describing theoretical features of grids and clouds, the authors take a look at two concrete implementations: the EGEE grid and the Amazon cloud (EC2+S3). This approach seems reasonable as it avoids long-lasting, fruitless discussions about how to define clouds and grids . . . Simplicity is an architectural design choice that I believe to be the major success factor of Amazon-style cloud computing. Easy-to-use interfaces allow third-party developers to hook into the cloud and build their own frameworks and tools on top of it.

Or, as the e-IRG authors put it: "In the medium term, the greatest potential benefit of cloud, as proposed by Amazon, is probably not the service itself, but its interfaces and usage patterns."

For further information, see the e-IRG Facebook groups site and the press release.

-Dan Drollette, iSGTW