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A Cluster by Any Other Name Is Not a Grid

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Have you noticed how lately, when the conversation turns to distributed computing, grid and cluster are used as synonyms? These two words do have different meanings, Donald Becker reminds us.

So-called grid computing solutions for small to midsize businesses are more likely to be utility computing or clustering solutions, Becker says. A grid implementation is much more difficult. The only place for "true grid," he says, is with global enterprises that have a single point of administration for the CIO.

Becker knows whereof he speaks. While working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center during the late 1980s, Becker created the first Beowulf cluster, using software to connect many inexpensive PCs to solve complex math problems typically reserved for classic supercomputers.

Beowulf is a trademark controlled by Linux International.

Becker literally wrote-or rather co-wrote-the book on Beowulf Clustering: How to Build a Beowulf: A Guide to the Implementation and Application of PC Clusters.

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