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Layered Grid Architecture and Technology

Oracle RAC Cluster Tips by Burleson Consulting

This is an excerpt from the bestselling book Oracle Grid & Real Application Clusters.  To get immediate access to the code depot of working RAC scripts, buy it directly from the publisher and save more than 30%.

At a very high level, Grid Architecture can be best represented in component layers. This layered architecture is by no means a rigid dictation of the components, but it is extensible and follows the open architectural framework. 

As shown in the Figure 2.1, the Layered Grid Architecture, Grid Architecture follows the hourglass model, where the narrow neck of hourglass defines a small set of core abstractions and protocols such as TCP and HTTP. 

Figure 2.1:  The Layered Grid Architecture

While the base of the model conveys the different underlying technologies, the top of model shows high-level behaviors that translate into services and user applications.

The fabric layer provides the resources to which the shared access is controlled by the grid protocols. The resources normally include physical and logical entities. Physical entities are resources like storage systems, catalogs, servers, and network resources. The resource may be a logical entity like distributed file system, computer cluster or distributed computer pool, and database systems to store structured data. The Grid mechanism normally permits the capability for the resource management, which involves discovery and control.

The connectivity layer defines core communications and authentication protocols required for Grid specific network transactions. These protocols enable the exchange of data between fabric layer resources. The resource layer, based on the connectivity and authentication protocols, controls the access resources.

The collective services layer deals with the directory brokering services, scheduling services, data replications services, and diagnostics/monitoring services. These services are not associated with any one specific resource but focus on interactions across resources. The programming models and tools define and invoke the collective layer functions. This layer is a key component in the whole grid architecture and its functioning. This is the layer that glues all the resources together in expedient exchange.

The top layer, User Applications, comprises the user applications that operate within a virtual organization (VO) environment.

The components in each layer share common characteristics but can build on new capabilities and behaviors provided by the lower layer. This model demonstrates the flexibility with which Grid Architecture can be extended and evolved. This is the precise reason why grid architecture is taking shape and form based on the guidelines developed by the visionaries and grid standard forums.

While looking at vision and broad framework the Grid Architecture provides, many of the IT vendors are steadily designing their own strategy and services. Many leading vendors such as IBM, SUN, Oracle, Dell, and HP offer various and diversified solutions that enable grid computing. In addition, there are many smaller companies, which focus on an innovative and specific resource or issue and they are able to design many solutions. Such groups include companies like Avaki, Axceleon, DataSynapse, Ejasent, Enigmatec, Entropia, GridFrastructure, GridIron, GridSystems, GridXpert, Powerllel, Tsunami Research, The Mind Electric and United Devices.

With Grid Technology being a new and unexplored arena for many, the tendency is to associate the technology with variations of what has been seen and what is comfortable. One such confusion is the perception of a large cluster to be synonymous with the grid framework. Clusters have been around a good number of years and their architecture and functionality are understood very well. Clusters focus on a single objective and are a collection of servers with homogenous nature.

Later sections of this chapter will cover a more detailed examination of cluster and its architecture.

Grid Concepts and Components

Grid is a collection of machines, nodes, resources, members, donors, clients, hosts, engines, and many other such items.  Grid architecture provides the necessary opportunity for executing applications with optimum exploitation of grid resources. These resources are explored next. Figure 2.2 shows the key components in the grid environment.

Figure 2.2: Grid Components

Computational Power

Processors are the main components that provide the computing cycles. Processors come in different architecture, speed, and instructional set design. The computing cycles are the main target for exploitation in a typical grid environment. There are three ways in which the applications utilize the computing cycles.

* First, the processing power can be harnessed by running an application on available machines in the grid rather than locally.

* Second, the user application can be designed to split its computation tasks or work and execute them in parallel running on different machines or processors.

* The third, involves running an application many times on many different machines in the grid. Grid architecture provides a suitable software and framework to make this work.


This is an excerpt from the bestselling book Oracle Grid & Real Application Clusters, Rampant TechPress, by Mike Ault and Madhu Tumma.

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30%-off and get instant access to the code depot of Oracle tuning scripts.


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