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Grid computing and Virtualization

The synergy between Grid computing and virtualization is becoming more and more apparent and is starting to find common ground in Linux.

At Novell's Brainshare conference, virtualization is taking the spot light.  In fact, Dell made an announcement that it will offer Novell ZENworks for Linux servers.

InfoWorld reports that Adam Fineberg (Vice President of Engineering at Levanta) sees specific technical reasons why Linux has become the most widely used OS for Grid environments:

"Some of the key aspects of an operating system that you really need take advantage of in a Grid computing environment are the networking and file systems. The networking side is very important because of the large number of nodes, the need to quickly / easily add more nodes, exchange information between the nodes with low latency, as well as access shared storage systems and devices. Linux does very good 'zero copy' networking, meaning that once the data reaches the network stack, it doesn't have to be copied again all the way through the rest of the operating system. That really keeps the networking efficient in Linux systems.

With respect to file systems -- because of the very strong interface that's defined within Linux, there are a great number of file systems that are available for you. And that's something that's fairly unique to the Linux OS. Most of the operating systems don't actually have a large number of file systems available for them, other than some standard ones like NFS. That makes it relatively easy to pick a file system that's well-suited for your particular application. So having access to, for instance, XFS or JFS -- which are two very high performance file systems that have good characteristics, but by the same token have very different implementations and therefore very different operating characteristics -- you can optimize by choosing the file system that's best suited for your application."

The embracing of Linux by the Grid / Virtualization community boils down to being able to understand the boundary values of this set of complex use-case equations. Linux, being open source, lets you get at the raw OS kernel code. This gives you access to the "boundaries" of the OS, the way it interfaces to applications and the hardware. An intimate understanding of these boundary conditions are critical to Grid and Virtualization.

Published Monday, March 20, 2006 6:37 PM by David Marshall
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