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Grid Computing's Promises And Perils

What do fad diets and grid computing have in common? They both make enticing claims and promise dramatic results. Yes, you can lose weight while you sleep! Yes, you can boost your company's computing power while simultaneously cutting costs! Get something, for nothing! To any sensible person, these grand claims don't ring true.

But before you toss grid computing into the same trash bin as fat-burning pills, consider this: Hewitt Associates (, a global human resources outsourcer, cut the cost of running a key business application by 90 percent when it switched from a mainframe to a grid. And that's not all: The application now runs faster and more reliably than ever.

"The grid worked out truly better than I expected," says Dan Kaberon, director of computer resource management at Hewitt.

Does this mean you should dial 1-800-GRID right away? Not necessarily. The truth is grid computing does offer significant benefits, but only to organizations that meet particular criteria. For instance, not every application will benefit from the parallel computing offered by a grid. Other factors to consider include security, resource management, and even good old departmental politics.

Read on to find out just what you need to know to make sensible choices about this bleeding-edge technology. We'll start with some background, and then delve into the pros and cons of the grid. We'll also get feedback from real-world grid users. By the time you're through, you'll know if you're ready for grid computing-or if grid computing is ready for you.

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