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The Tech Hotlist: Grid Computing and P2P
Milan Lathia • Gridalogy and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
From P2P to Web Services and Grids: Peers in a Client Server World
By Ian J. Taylor
P2P (peer-to-peer) and grid computing are hot new technologies th...
P2P (peer-to-peer) and grid computing are hot new technologies that have been
touted by the media and are popular in academic and industrial circles. From P2P
to Web Services and Grids: Peers in a Client Server World provides a
comprehensive, updated review of the new and improved distributed computing
technology formed by the union of computing and communications.
As Ian J. Taylor points out, he wrote the book primarily for university students.
It’s written like a textbook, and very well, too. You need a computing foundation
and some familiarity with grid computing to grasp all the concepts. The book does,
however, give a good overview of the technology before delving too deeply into
the details. Each chapter builds the technical know-how needed for the next one.
Taylor is a professor at the University of Cardiff. The book is based largely on his
online notes on P2P and distributed systems, which have been valuable to many
students, including me. In addition, the book explains in detail recent technologies
such as JXTA, Jini, Globus, and Freenet. Taylor also gives security, a rising </P>
concern with grid computing, the attention it deserves. He provides additional
references for each chapter if you need more detail.
The book has four parts: Distributed Environments; Middleware, Applications, and
Supporting Technologies; Middleware Deployment; and From Web Services to
Future Grids. The distributed-environments section works as an orientation and an
introduction to many grid-computing-related concepts. It talks about P2P (peer-topeer),
Web services, and grid-computing technologies. It covers the concept of
distributed computing and P2P, their history, the technology, and academic and
industrial applications. The grid-computing chapter is well written, with good
information on the Globus Toolkit and the grid architecture. This section sets the
tone of the book by introducing and explaining the basic principles of distributed
computing—the backbone of P2P and grid computing.
The second section explores several well-known P2P and distributed computing
technologies such as Jini and JXTA. Taylor uses code snippets to simplify many
complex concepts used in these technologies. He also introduces signatures,
encryption, and other related technologies. The analogical and simplified
explanations of key concepts such as virtual organization, network topology, and
addressing are well done. Additionally, this section details Gnutella and Freenet,
two of the most popular P2P file-sharing mechanisms. Although neither Taylor nor
I support illegal file sharing, I do appreciate the system’s architecture and design.
His explanation does justice to file-sharing software concepts and technology. This
section also looks in depth at concerns such as scalability and security. Not many
authors have written in detail about security for grid computing.
The third section includes chapters on several demo applications and code
examples for using different technologies in grid computing. You can download
and run the sample code from the companion Web site. The section details and
demonstrates the power of Jini, JXTA, and related Web services. </P>
The final section covers various grid technologies. Services based on the Grid
Computing Architecture and OGSA (Open Grid Services Architecture) reintroduce
the notion of "state to a Web service.” P2P and grid computing are becoming
extremely popular and require much effort in terms of standardization. The section
also brings up issues such as the drawbacks of OGSI (Open Grid Services
The book is an easy read and makes many complex concepts easy to
understand. Its small size encouraged me to bring it along during business trips.
The book explains and correlates many P2P and grid-related concepts. Being in
the grid-computing business, I own many books on the subject, and From P2P to
Web Services and Grids: Peers in a Client Server World is a valuable addition to
The book is a must for all grid-computing professionals and a good read for
enthusiasts and those who are curious about the technologies.
Milan Lathia is the president of Gridalogy, a grid software services and research company, and a
master’s student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Contact him at
l DS Online's Peer-to-Peer Community
l DS Online's Grid Computing Community
l "A Loosely Coupled Vision for Computational Grids"
l "A Scalable P2P Platform for the Knowledge Grid" </P>
Cite this article:
Milan Lathia, "The Tech Hotlist: Grid Computing and P2P," review of From P2P to Web Services and
Grids: Peers in a Client Server World by Ian J. Taylor, IEEE Distributed Systems Online, vol. 6, no. 11,
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