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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

eScience / David Lifka

David Lifka leads the Cornell Theory Center (i.e., the CTC).  If you are (still) questioning the viability of Windows for cluster computing, you should check out the work they have done.  They offer a free workshop I went last year.  Interesting content plus you get to check out their visualization cave!


He spoke about what they do there and more of the story: Windows, IIS, SQL Server, Web services, Visual Studio, . . . All together this makes an excellent platform for computing.


David brought up the problem with network load balancing (NLB) applied to distributed computing.  It is transaction based.  If transactions/second go down, then the server is loaded higher.  Long running tasks (e.g., a large BLAST search) will have a low t/s resulting in more tasks assigned to that machine.  Then you get a grinding halt.  This approach works well for short transaction-based requests (think Web-sites) and poorly for computation-intense applications.


He brings this up for a good reason: many people think that application distribution can be achieved by simply implementing NLB across a set of Web servers.  The answer, as is often the case, is: “well, under some circumstances, maybe.”


He also uses an alternate to the term “grid”: “Heterogeneous Wide Area Distributed Computing”.  Meaning, a Grid that isn’t necessarily based on Globus.

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