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Compute Server: grid computing for the rest of us!

Posted by nidaley on March 23, 2006 at 11:42 AM PST

What makes distributed computing so darn hard? Well, to start with, so much can go wrong. Networks change. Network speeds fluctuate. Networks fail. Nodes fail. And more. Are you testing all these scenarios? Time has shown that we tend to make a number of assumptions when building and testing distributed applications that, in the long run, turn out to be false. Ignoring the falsity of these assumptions leads to unreliable systems.

Well, reliable distributed computing on the grid just got a whole lot easier for Java developers. Today we released an early access version of Compute Server. So instead of fretting over all the details of reliably distributing work to different nodes, coordinating processes, monitoring and reacting to network and node failures, Compute Server takes care of these details for you so you can focus on your computations. From the description of our project:

Sun's Compute Server technology aims to enable Java developers to easily and efficiently use the Sun Grid Compute Utility as a platform for the distributed execution of parallel computations.

So what kinds of computations? Of course there's the usual stuff -- scientific, financial, image processing, etc. But I'm a tester -- so computations could also be test suites, right? Right. But that's a future blog entry.

Using the included NetBeans 5.0 plug-in, Compute Server enables you to split your computations (execution of large test suites in my case) into discrete tasks and farm those tasks out to the CPUs on the Sun Grid Compute Utility. Three simple steps to get started:

   1. Get NetBeans 5.0

   2. Get Java 5.0

   3. Get Compute Server 0.1 (Early Access)

The documentation in the Compute Server download ZIP file should take you the rest of the way (if it doesn't then please let us know). I suggest starting with one of the included example NetBeans projects. Again, this is early access -- lots more features to come.

Oh, and above all, send us your feedback to help shape its future (mailing list subscription required).

The Final Word...

Too few of us question our assumptions; I unquestioningly assume that every assumption should be questioned.

-- David Parnas

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