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What Is the Difference between Distributed and Grid Computing?

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  • Written By: Jean Marie Asta
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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In today’s business environments, it is increasingly necessary to link multiple computers over a network in order to share workloads and communicate with other members of the company, clients, customers, and other remote cooperative facilities. There are many different ways to set up networks such as these. Distributed and grid computing are similar ways of creating a complex computer network.

Of the distributed and grid computing network options, grid computing is the most commonly used form. This type of network has been used for decades to allow businesses to exchange information quickly and easily. Computers on systems such as these can be located all around the world but still share communal files and information on a closed network called "the grid." Communal storage allows these computers to perform tasks at a greater speed because their memory can be reserved for more important individual functions. The ability to share data via an internal network rather than communicating over the Internet provides businesses with greater protection from external threats.

The less common of the two networking options, distributed computing is an extension of the grid system but is generally used within a single building. Distributed computers evenly share the workload of all the computers that are connected to the system. This is different from a standard in-office network in that the computers can do more than simply communicate and share information with one another. If one machine is performing more complex tasks than the others in the network, they will take on part of the computing workload, allowing for all the computers to work at an even rate. This prevents excessive strain on individual computers and extends their functional lifespan.

Both distributed and grid computing networks are closed or very limited to use by the general public. A network may also be referred to as an administrative domain. This means that each computer on the network is subject to the same standards of usage, maintenance, and security as decided by its owner or owners. The owner may decide if there are parts of the system that may be accessed by outside users, but sharing the network externally is not common.

Researchers have used distributed and grid computing networks to their advantage. Both types of network can help to conduct studies that would be impossible with a single highly advanced computer. Tasks such as complex geographical mapping, digital rendering of detailed environments, and the digital exploration of outer space have all been made easier.

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