Archives ||About Us || Advertise || Feedback || Subscribe-
Issue of March 2005 

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

 Home > xSP
 Print Friendly Page ||  Email this story

Enterprise Grids

Harvesting grid computing’s power

The virtues of grid computing have been discussed before. Now Satyam's grid computing practice offers consulting and other related services for enterprises that want to set up an in-house grid computing infrastructure, says Anil Patrick R

Your typical organisation has underutilised resources on its network. Grid computing (See box A Grid Computing Primer to learn more about the basics of grid computing) is a technology that can help enterprises optimally utilise these resources. This is where Satyam Computer Service Ltd’s (Satyam’s) grid computing service comes in; the company consults, deploys, manages, and maintains enterprise grids for organisations that wish to have their own in-house grids.

The grid computing practice is a part of Satyam's Consulting and Enterprise Solutions unit. It offers consulting services to help organisations assess utilisation levels of existing IT infrastructure. "The grid computing practice then suggests measures to improve resource utilisation using this technology. It also helps organisations plan for their future IT infrastructure and investments," said G B Prabhat, Director, Consulting and Enterprise Solutions, Satyam.

Massive computing

Grid computing's unique value proposition is the promise of delivering massive computing capabilities using computing resources that are already present in the enterprise. Computing tasks are distributed among existing resources on the network and then reassembled after processing with this approach.

(Check Figure: Satyam’s Basic Grid Architecture to see the basic grid framework used by Satyam.)

The distributed processing approach makes it possible to derive tremendous processing potential from existing resources. This is why it is common to see grid computing being adopted for processor-intensive applications such as genetic and space research. Satyam is playing to the technology's strengths by targeting those verticals that run compute-intensive applications.

According to Prabhat, the industrial verticals which will benefit from grid technology include life sciences, geo sciences, financial services, government, industrial manufacturing, and entertainment & media.

Tapping hidden strengths

Grid-based processing architectures can provide considerable business benefits. Apart from obtaining a better return on income from existing investments, grids can reduce time-to-result, provide productivity improvements, and improve IT utilisation. The technology can help avoid the pitfall of over-budgeting.

According to Satyam, one of the biggest benefits of using grid processing is the marginal use of additional hardware. Organisations can build grids on their own premises. As grids tap into the surplus processing power of existing computers, the only additional hardware required for a basic grid implementation is a server to host grid application software. Additional grid servers need to be deployed for larger grids.

On the software front, grid application software is required to build a grid. This has a server component residing on the grid server, and an agent component residing on every node of the grid. "The additional requirement on hardware and software to build a grid is very low and will be negligible when compared to the cost of an High Performance Computing (HPC) set-up that equals the computing power generated by a grid," said Prabhat.

Satyam demonstrates proof-of-value to interested organisations using its in-house grid model at Chennai. Organisations can run a sample application on this grid. The 200 node grid, across two locations, models a typical enterprise network. Satyam maintains that by installing the grid computing hardware and software, they have been able to simulate a live grid environment with 500 Gigaflops of computing power.

The company says that it is collaborating with leading product vendors to augment its competency and extend its reach globally. It also has an alliance with United Devices, a US-based grid solutions company, and is discussing partnerships with other leaders in the field.

Beyond consulting

In addition to consulting, Satyam offers other-grid associated services. These include:

  • Design of applications to run on the grid.
  • Implementation: These services include building the grid across available IT resources.
  • Deploying the grid-enabled solutions to run on the grid.
  • Managing the grid for effective resource utilisation: This will also involve making more applications run on the grid as well as expanding it by bringing in more computing resources on the grid.
  • Maintaining the grid: This includes maintenance of the production environment to ensure availability and proper functioning of the grid. It will also involve tracking the performance of the various grid components, and meeting specific requests from the enterprise.

Satyam's Indian grids

A grid project has been executed for Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL). The objective was to grid-enable the molecular docking application used at the pharmaceutical company.

DRL's biggest challenge with the molecular docking application was the restrictions imposed by conventional systems. With the long duration that these systems used to take, there was a restriction on the number of molecules that could be processed. "Satyam deployed the application on the grid, developed interface programmes, and submitted a database of 59,000 molecules to run on the grid of 50 nodes built across two facilities that yielded phenomenal results," adds Prabhat. The bioinformatics department of the University of Pune has also executed a project in Satyam's grid lab.

Anil Patrick R can be reached at

Grid computing primer
Grid computing is a form of distributed computing that uses consolidated utilisation of resources such as processing, applications and storage across the network.

To describe it simply, a complex task, one that requires massive processing power and storage capabilities, is divided into smaller tasks and sent across to clients over the network (for example, LAN, MAN/WAN, Internet, etc) for processing or storage; it is then recombined to get the final desired result. This approach helps achieve massive capabilities at relatively economical manners that are not otherwise possible with a traditional approach.

Looking at it closely, grid computing is not really a new technology as such. One of the first implementations of this technology was the UC Berkeley's SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project SETI@home. This project makes use of voluntary processing time donated by users from across the globe to do the massive data crunching required for deciphering extraterrestrial radio signals.

From an enterprise perspective, it has been a gradual evolution. The first entrant was parallel processing with multiple processors (Symmetric Multiple Processing, or SMP.) Then came massive parallel processing (clusters), and after that came grids.

Then, as now, the typical grid architecture consists of grid server(s) hosting the grid application and clients (nodes) which have software agents installed on them. Enterprises have largely restricted themselves to employing the grid over LANs. But this scenario is bound to soon expand to WANs and the Internet, with grids becoming more popular in the enterprise. Service providers who will build commercial grids as web services are also likely to materialise along with this.


- <Back to Top>-  
Untitled Document
Indian Express - Business Publications Division

Copyright 2001: Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Limited (Mumbai, India). All rights reserved throughout the world. This entire site is compiled in Mumbai by the Business Publications Division (BPD) of the Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Limited. Site managed by BPD.