Thursday, May 19, 2011

There Will Be a Grid of Clouds

Since 2007, when the term cloud computing came into popularity, we have a vision about the future of Grid and Cloud Computing as fully complementary technologies that will coexist and cooperate at different levels of abstraction in e-infrastructures. Pioneering blog posts like Grid and Clouds are Complementary Technologies, A Virtual Infrastructure Layer for Cluster and Grid Computing or Moving Jobs or Moving the Nodes anticipate the full virtualization of Grid sites, the benefits of hybrid Cloud computing for Grid sites or the use of Grid services to federate Cloud sites. Presentations like From Grids to Cloud Services predict the future of compute Grid infrastructures, from infrastructures for sharing basic Grid services to infrastructures for sharing raw resources. I think that this perspective, controversial at that time, was, in part, result of our participation in pioneering initiatives in Cloud computing, such as RESERVOIR, flagship of the EU-funded projects in Cloud computing, or OpenNebula, widely used open-source technology to build clouds.

Unfortunately, at that time, a large part of the Grid computing community saw Cloud as a threat and not as an opportunity, and tried to undervalue the advantages of bringing Cloud to Grid infrastructures, probably because they were not able to understand the potential of the Cloud, or just "scared of the unknown". However things are now changing. Last week, EGI (European Grid Infrastructure) organized the User Virtualization Workshop to discuss the future of virtualization and cloud computing in the European production infrastructure. The aim of the workshop was to evaluate the challenges to move towards an Infrastructure as a Service model with federation of resource providers. It is only a very first step, but we are very happy to see that EGI is now moving in the right direction and is planning to incorporate virtualization and Cloud computing to enhance Grid computing and to allow other communities to take advantage of the infrastructure. I think this is a first step to adapt to technology and an opportunity to define a leading position in the new infrastructure arena. After all, Grid will be one of the many services that could be executed on the new European Cloud Infrastructure.

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