Info on: comp.distributed

Rajkumar Buyya rajkumar at
Fri Nov 2 01:38:21 PST 2001

Dear All,


Discussions are currently underway for the creation of an unmoderated
Usenet newsgroup called comp.distributed to address grid and
peer-to-peer (even cluster) issues, or any other issues related 
to collectives of network connected distributed resources.  
Discussions are taking place on the news.groups newsgroup, and voting 
is expected to begin in mid-November. The current draft of the Request 
for Discussion (RFD), which includes a description of the charter, can be 
found on news.announce.newgroups or attached below.


            unmoderated newsgroup comp.distributed

This is a formal Request For Discussion (RFD) for the creation of
world-wide unmoderated Usenet newsgroup comp.distributed. This is
not a Call for Votes (CFV); you cannot vote at this time. Procedural
details are below.

Newsgroup line:
comp.distributed        Distributed Resource Sharing and Exploitation.

CHANGES from previous RFD:

This is an updated version of the previously submitted RFD for
comp.p2p-grid. It addresses many comments and concerns raised during
discussion on the earlier RFD including the recommendation of a new
name, comp.distributed.

RATIONALE: comp.distributed

Networks in general, and the internet specifically, have been
evolving, from star topologies of thin clients or dumb terminals
connected to central servers, to a collection of highly connected
nodes, many having significant compute, storage, and peripherals,
along with human presence.  Likewise, internet tools and protocols
have evolved from being primarily a mechanism to "push" (via email)
or "pull" (via web-browser) untyped data, into supporting more
interactive, semantic, and bi-directional relationships.  These
changes have prompted different communities to (re-)explore the
potential of sharing and exploiting collections of heterogeneous,
geographically distributed resources such as computers, data, people,
and scientific instruments in a secure and consistent manner, usually
lacking any central control or authority.  These efforts are often
described with terms like "peer-to-peer" ("p2p") and "grids", and
can serve to virtualize enterprizes by blurring the significance of
physical location.

Different communities tend to focus on different varieties of
resources, different overall objectives and constraints, and different
degrees of permanence of the resource collectives.  For example,
"grid" communities will often consider large, semi-permanent (though
dynamically constituted) collections of world-class resources that can
be accessed much as utilities, to provide unprecedented capabilities
that enable, for example, large-scale problems in science, engineer-
ing, and commerce.  "p2p" communities, on the other hand, often seek
on-demand temporary relationships between everyday personal computers,
devices, and peripherals "at the edge of the network", that help to
solve every-day problems of sharing, collaboration, and computing in
more efficient, convenient, and economical ways.  Similar relation-
ships have been explored over time in areas related to human collabor-
ation, distributed data bases, distributed search, parallel and
distributed computing, web services, and hierarchical content delivery

In spite of these differences, all of these communities share a large
number of challenges as a direct result of attempting to effectively
and synergistically assemble and use these collectives of hetero-
geneous distributed resources.  These challenges include:

 * Lack of any central authority, leading to the potential unannounced
   availability or withdrawal of resources, requiring fault tolerant
   applications and complicating the discovery and scheduling of
 * Heterogeneous resources, requiring methods to recognize and request
   unique functionality when needed, while hiding unexploitable
   resource differences behind consistent interfaces.
 * Heterogeneous performance in those resources, prompting the use of
   simulation and performance modeling to determine which resources to
   use when.
 * Heterogeneous requirements from both resource owners and end users
   in terms of their objectives, quality of services, and computa-
   tional economy.
 * Unpredictable and dynamic network topology and properties,
   requiring the ability to portably deal with differing latency and
   bandwidth constraints (e.g. hiding latency while minimizing
   overhead) and motivating quality of service (QoS) mechanisms.
 * A complex and unpredictable concurrent environment, requiring
   general approaches to program development that hide these features
   while leveraging existing tools, languages, and techniques wherever
 * A memory hierarchy that can extend to the memory and disk throughout
   the collective, prompting a reconsideration of traditional data
   storage and caching approaches.
 * The potential presence of untrusted resources and/or actors,
   requiring decentralized approaches to privacy, authorization,
   authentication, anonymity, and the determination of levels of
   acceptable risk associated with different operational modes.
 * Achieving return on investment for both resource users and
   providers, requiring approaches for auditable accounting and re-
   imbursement as well as the consideration of cost/price as a resource
   selection parameter.
 * Impediments to connectivity, including firewalls and oversubscribed
   scarce network resources (such as dial-in modems, and IP addresses
   shared through network address translation/IP masquerading).
 * Cross-organizational IT involvement, requiring flexible and
   politically acceptable policies, procedures, and management tools.
 * Evaluating and proposing mechanisms and policies for the protection
   of intellectual property in an environment explicitly designed to
   facilitate instant sharing.
 * Understanding and exploiting the potential value of these resource
   collectives, including effective collaboration strategies,
   integration of mixed resource types into problem solving
   environments, novel application areas and solution approaches
   enabled by this environment, and the use of automated agents.

Already, international academic and commercial forums like:
 * Global Grid Forum: <>
 * Peer to Peer Computing WG: <>
 * Universal Plug-n-Play Forum <>
 * New Productivity Initiative <>
have evolved to create standards and protocols for inter-operability
between heterogeneous systems providing virtual services.  Recently,
infrastructure projects like the NSF Distributed TeraScale Facility
have focused even more attention, and include involvement from several
companies.  Many computer and/or software vendors, large and small,
have recently announced specific projects or general priorities into
p2p and/or grids, including IBM, Intel, DSTC, Sun, and Microsoft.
Some details on these and other projects can be found at:

Although over 20 discussion mailing lists operated by individuals or
institutions exist, they are generally intended for discussion of
specific group priorities, and strongly segregate p2p and grid
communities, even when addressing similar issues.  Another concern is
that mailing lists are likely to generate large volume of email for
members; therefore, moderators will often discourage use of these
lists for general or controversial discussion, and many prospective
participants feel discouraged from subscribing, do not become members,
and do not join important topical discussions.  We believe that having
a newsgroup where people can participate in discussions of their own
choosing, when they want, without getting swamped with emails, will
help overcome these limitations and will encourage discussion and
dissemination without the need of explicit membership.  While some
existing newsgroups, like comp.parallel and comp.sys.super, touch on
some specialized aspects of this topic, and will continue to do so,
this new group will serve as a focal point for considering the inter-
relationships, interactions, and synergies when combining these
separate technologies.

Strategy for publicising the comp.distributed newsgroup:

The formation of the comp.distributed newsgroup will be publicised
through the following channels (but not limited to):

 * IEEE DS Online,
 * Global Grid Forum,
 * P2P WG,
 * Grid Infoware,
 * IEEE/ACM conferences:
 * CCGRID'xy: <>,
 * GRID'xy: <>,
 * Yahoo Group on gridcomputing as part of GridInfoware.
 * IEEE Task Force on Cluster Computing (TFCC)
 * Newsgroups such as comp.parallel


CHARTER: comp.distributed

Although the name "comp.distributed" has been chosen due to its
familiarity and convenience, the group is to be broader than just
those topics traditionally regarded as "distributed computing".
Specifically, topics are to include any unique issues relating to
the creation and exploitation of collectives of geographically
distributed and potentially heterogeneous resources such as computers,
data/information sources, peripherals, instruments, and humans.
Appropriate areas of discussion in this context would include (but
are not limited to):

 * discovering, scheduling/brokering, and accessing remote resources
 * exploitation of heterogeneous resources
 * resource management, scheduling, and computational economy
 * portable/adaptable communication substrates
 * quality of service approaches
 * portable program development tools, languages, techniques
 * data management tools and techniques
 * exploitation of distributed memory hierarchy
 * decentralized security
 * practical accounting, reimbursement, and business & revenue models
 * overcoming impediments to wide-area connectivity
 * cross-organizational policy issues and ways to address them
 * mechanisms and policies for intellectual property
 * programming tools, environments, and languages
 * applications, collaboration, and distributed agents
 * simulation and performance modelling
 * comparisons of grid and p2p, and issues unique to each
 * events, surveys, news and general announcements

It is expected that additional 3rd-level subgroups addressing some of
these topics or others may be created as dictated by the volume and
cohesiveness of resulting message traffic.



This is a request for discussion, not a call for votes.  In this phase
of the process, any potential problems with the proposed newsgroups
should be raised and resolved.  The discussion period will continue for
a minimum of 21 days (starting from when the first RFD for this proposal
is posted to news.announce.newgroups), after which a Call For Votes
(CFV) will be posted by a neutral vote taker.  Please do not attempt to
vote until this happens.

All discussion of this proposal should be posted to news.groups.

This RFD attempts to comply fully with the Usenet newsgroup creation
guidelines outlined in "How to Create a New Usenet Newsgroup" and "How
to Format and Submit a New Group Proposal".  Please refer to these
documents (available in news.announce.newgroups) if you have any
questions about the process.


DISTRIBUTION: comp.distributed

This RFD has been posted to the following newsgroups:


and to the following mailing lists:
  <gridcomputing at>
  <decentralization at>


Proponent:  Rajkumar Buyya <rajkumar at>
Proponent:  David C. DiNucci <dave at>

More information about the Beowulf mailing list