Grid technology is a new paradigm which has the potential to completely change the way of computing and data access. Computational Grids are widely envisaged as the next logical step in computing infrastructure, following a path from standalone systems, to tightly linked clusters, to enterprise-wide clusters, to geographically dispersed computing environments. Grid is already being successfully used in many scientific applications where huge amounts of data have to be processed and/or stored. Some examples include the processing of data coming from physic-related applications, like the data generated in the nuclear accelerator of CERN, the data coming from radio telescopes, the data generated in complex simulations and so on. Grid is now moving to the commercial realm, where its potentialities can be revealed to a wider audience, mainly users with every day problems and requirements. Obviously such needs cannot directly compete with the highly demanding scientific applications described so far, but, as the amount of potential users is really enormous, the accumulated data processing and storage requirements are at least comparable. The Grid activities are focused on:
- Extend the use of the Grid computation to mobile users. Mobile devices are affected by many constraints due to their limited resources. The first phase is related to the study of the main Grid middleware such as Globus Toolkit and Sun Grid Engine. The second phase concerns the implementation of a mobile agents based architecture that allows mobile users accessing Grid resources;
- Enable applications on the Grid. Business Grids need to run applications. However, there are cases with particular requirements, such as:
- Application is restricted to run only on a particular OS (e.g. windows)
- Application code is closed, which means not accessible for reading and modifying
- Application needs to enforce privacy and data security control
For business Grids to be competitive, the limits above mentioned need to be overcame. The more applications are enabled the larger the set of users capable of using the infrastructure;
- Enable customers to use the Grid. In order for customers to be able to access the Grid, accounting mechanisms need to be in place. Such mechanisms regard logging, authorization, billing etc.
- Offer chargeable services with guarantied QoS. Business Grids should offer services according to some particular pricing model. Users have to be guaranteed to get what they paid for, while Grid providers should be guaranteed that users make use of the services bought and no harm is caused to the infrastructure as well as to processes of other users. SLAs management should be used for this purpose.