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I n t e r n a t i o n a l T e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n U n i o n

Distributed Computing: Utilities, Grids &
ITU-T Technology Watch Report 9

Terms such as ‘Cloud Computing’ have gained a lot of attention, as they are used
to describe emerging paradigms for the management of information and computing
resources. This report describes the advent of new forms of distributed computing,
notably grid and cloud computing, the applications that they enable, and their
potential impact on future standardization.


Telecommunication Standardization Policy Division
ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector
ITU-T Technology Watch Reports

ITU-T Technology Watch Reports are intended to provide an up-to-date assessment of promising
new technologies in a language that is accessible to non-specialists, with a view to:
 Identifying candidate technologies for standardization work within ITU.
 Assessing their implications for ITU Membership, especially developing countries.

Other reports in the series include:
#1 Intelligent Transport System and CALM
#2 Telepresence: High-Performance Video-Conferencing
#3 ICTs and Climate Change
#4 Ubiquitous Sensor Networks
#5 Remote Collaboration Tools
#6 Technical Aspects of Lawful Interception
#7 NGNs and Energy Efficiency
#8 Intelligent Transport Systems

This report was prepared by Martin Adolph. It has benefited from contributions and comments from
Ewan Sutherland and Arthur Levin.
The opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views
of the International Telecommunication Union or its membership.
This report, along with previous Technology Watch Reports, can be found at
Your comments on this report are welcome, please send them to or join the
Technology Watch Correspondence Group, which provides a platform to share views, ideas and
requirements on new/emerging technologies.
The Technology Watch function is managed by the ITU-T Standardization Policy Division (SPD).

 ITU 2009

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, by any means whatsoever, without the
prior written permission of ITU.
ITU-T Technology Watch Reports

Distributed Computing:
Utilities, Grids & Clouds
The spread of high-speed broadband relationship can extend across borders and
networks in developed countries, the continents.
continual increase in computing power, and
A number of new paradigms and terms
the growth of the Internet have changed
related to distributed computing have been
the way in which society manages
introduced, promising to deliver IT as a
information and information services.
service. While experts disagree on the
Geographically distributed resources, such precise boundaries between these new
as storage devices, data sources, and computing models, the following table
supercomputers, are interconnected and provides a rough taxonomy.
can be exploited by users around the world
as single, unified resource. To a growing
New New Services New or
extent, repetitive or resource-intensive IT Computing enhanced
tasks can be outsourced to service Paradigms Features
providers, which execute the task and often
provide the results at a lower cost. A new  Cloud  Software as a  Ubiquitous
computing Service (SaaS) access
paradigm is emerging in which computing is
offered as a utility by third parties whereby  Edge  Infrastructure  Reliability
the user is billed only for consumption. computing as a Service
 Scalability
This service-oriented approach from (IaaS)
 Grid
organizations offering a large portfolio of  Virtualization
computing  Platform as a
services can be scalable and flexible. Service (PaaS)  Exchangeabil-
 Utility
ity / Location
This report describes the advent of new computing  Service-
forms of distributed computing, notably grid Oriented
and cloud computing, the applications that Architecture  Cost-
(SOA) effectiveness
they enable, and their potential impact on
future standardization. The idea of It is difficult to draw lines between these
distributing resources within computer paradigms: Some commentators say that
networks is not new. It dates back to grid, utility and cloud computing refer to
remote job entry on mainframe computers the same thing; others believe there are
and the initial use of data entry terminals. only subtle distinctions among them, while
This was expanded first with minicomputers, others would claim they refer to completely
then with personal computers (PCs) and different phenomenon. 2 There are no clear
two-tier client-server architecture. While or standard definitions, and it is likely that
the PC offered more autonomy on the vendor A describes the feature set of its
desktop, the trend is moving back to client- cloud solution differently than vendor B.
server architecture with additional tiers, but The new paradigms are sometimes
now the server is not in-house. analogized to the electric power grid, which
Not only improvements in computer provides universal access to electricity and
component technology but also in has had a dramatic impact on social and
communication protocols paved the way for industrial development. 3 Electric power
distributed computing. Networks based on grids are spread over large geographical
Systems Network Architecture (SNA), regions, but form a single entity, providing
created by IBM in 1974, and on ITU-T’s power to billions of devices and customers,
X.25, approved in March 1976 1 , enabled in a relatively low-cost and reliable
large-scale public and private data fashion. 4 Although owned and operated by
networks. These were gradually replaced by different organizations at different
more efficient or less complex protocols, geographical locations, the components of
notably TCP/IP. Broadband networks grids appear highly heterogeneous in their
extend the geographical reach of physical characteristics. Its users only
distributed computing, as the client-server rarely know about the details of operation,

Distributed Computing: Utilities, Grids & Clouds (March 2009) 1
ITU-T Technology Watch Reports
Figure 1: Stack of a distributed system

Clients (e.g., web browser, and other locally installed software, devices)

Middleware services (e.g., for load balancing, scheduling, billing)

Resource entity 1 Resource entity 2 Resource entity 3 Resource entity n
(e.g., application (e.g., virtual (e.g., database,
server) system) storage)

Resource interconnecter

Shared resources

or the location of the resources they are
Figure 1 outlines a possible composition of
a distributed system. Similar system stacks
In general terms, a distributed system is “is have been described, e.g., specifically for
a collection of independent computers that clouds 8 and grids 9 , and in a simplified stack
appears to its users as a single coherent with three layers 10 : application layer,
system” (Andrew S. Tanenbaum) 5 . A mediator (=resource interconnecter), and
second description of distributed systems connectivity layer (=shared resources).
by Leslie Lamport points out the importance
The client layer is used to display
of considering aspects such as reliability,
information, receive user input, and to
fault tolerance and security when going
communicate with the other layers. A web
distributed: “You know you have a
browser, a Matlab computing client or an
distributed system when the crash of a
Oracle database client suggest some of the
computer you’ve never heard of stops you
applications that can be addressed.
from getting any work done.” 6
A transparent and network-independent
Even without a clear definition for each of
middleware layer plays a mediating role: it
the distributed paradigms: clouds and grids
connects clients with requested and
have been hailed by some as a trillion dollar
provisioned resources, balances peak loads
business opportunity. 7
between multiple resources and customers,
Shared resources regulates the access to limited resources
(such as processing time on a
The main goal of a distributed computing
supercomputer), monitors all activities,
system is to connect users and IT resources gathers statistics, which can later be used
in a transparent, open, cost-effective,
for billing and system management. The
reliable and scalable way. middleware has to be reliable and always
The resources that can be shared in grids, available. It provides interfaces to over-
clouds and other distributed computing and underlying layers, which can be used
systems include: by programmers to shape the system
according to their needs. These interfaces
 Physical resources
enable the system to be scalable,
o Computational power
extensible, and to handle peak loads, for
o Storage devices
instance during the holiday season (see Box
o Communication capacity
 Virtual resources, which can be
Different resources can be geographically
exchanged and are independent from its
dispersed or hosted in the same data center.
physical location; like virtual memory
Furthermore, they can be interconnected.
o Operating systems
Regardless of the architecture of the
o Software and licenses
resources, they appear to the user/client as
o Tasks and applications
one entity. Resources can be formed into
o Services

ITU-T Technology Watch Reports
Box 1: holiday sales 2002-2008

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Number of items 1.7m 2.1m 2.8m 3.6m 4m 5.4m 6.3m
ordered on peak day
Average number of 20 24 32 41 46 62.5 72.9
items ordered per
second on peak day, one of the world’s largest online retailers, announced that 6.3 million
items were ordered on the peak day of the holiday season on 15 December 2008 – a
multiple of the items sold on an ordinary business day. This is 72.9 items per second
on average.
Source: press releases, 2002-2008

virtual organizations, which again can make nuclear research, have a production which
use of other resources. involves more than 150,000 daily jobs sent
to the EGEE infrastructure and generates
Provided that the service meets the
hundreds of terabytes of data per year. This
technical specifications defined in a Service
is done in collaboration with the Open
Level Agreement, for some users the
Science Grid (OSG 14 ) project in the USA
location of the data is not an issue.
and the Nordic Data Grid Facility (NDGF 15 ).
However, the users of distributed systems
need to consider legal aspects, questions of The CERN grid is also used to support
liability and data security, before research communities outside the field of
outsourcing data and processes. These HEP. In 2006, the ITU-R Regional Radio
issues are addressed later in this report. Conference (RRC06 16 ) established a new
frequency plan for the introduction of digital
Grid computing broadcasting in the VHF (174-230 MHz) and
Grid computing enables the sharing, UHF (470-862 MHz) bands. The complex
selection, and aggregation by users of a calculations involved required non-trivial
wide variety of geographically distributed dependable computing capability. The tight
resources owned by different organizations schedule at the RRC06 imposed very
and is well-suited for solving IT resource- stringent time constraints for performing a
intensive problems in science, engineering full set of calculations (less than 12 hours
and commerce. for an estimate of 1000 CPU/hours on a 3
GHz PC).
Grids are very large-scale virtualized,
distributed computing systems. They cover The ITU-R developed and deployed a client-
multiple administrative domains and enable server distributed system consisting of 100
virtual organizations. 11 Such organizations high speed (3.6 GHz) hyper-thread PCs,
can share their resources collectively to capable of running 200 parallel jobs. To
create an even larger grid. complement the local cluster and to provide
additional flexibility and reliability to the
For instance, 80,000 CPU cores are shared
planning system it agreed with CERN to use
within EGEE (Enabling Grids for E-sciencE),
resources from the EGEE grid infrastructure
one of the largest multi-disciplinary grid
(located at CERN and other institutions in
infrastructure in the world. This brings
Germany, Russia, Italy, France and Spain).
together more than 10,000 users in 140
institutions (300 sites in 50 countries) to UNOSAT 17 is a humanitarian initiative
produce a reliable and scalable computing delivering satellite solutions to relief and
resource available to the European and development organizations within and
global research community. 12 High-energy outside the UN system for crisis response,
physics (HEP) is one of the pilot application early recovery and vulnerability reduction.
domains in EGEE, and is the largest user of UNOSAT uses the grid to convert
the grid infrastructure. The four Large uncompressed satellite images into
Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments at JPEG2000 ECW 18 files. UNOSAT has already
CERN 13 , Europe’s central organization for been involved in a number of joint activities

Distributed Computing: Utilities, Grids & Clouds (March 2009) 3
ITU-T Technology Watch Reports
Box 2: Folding@home: What is protein folding and how is folding linked to

Proteins are biology’s workhorses, its “nanomachines.” Before proteins can carry
out these important functions, they assemble themselves, or “fold.” The process
of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, in
many ways remains a mystery. Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e.
“misfold”), there can be serious consequences, including many well known
diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow (BSE/CJD), Huntington’s, Parkinson’s,
and many cancers.
Folding@home uses distributed computing to simulate problems millions of times
more challenging than previously achieved, by interconnecting idle computer
resources of individuals from throughout the world, represented as red dots in the
Figure above (May 2008). More than 400,000 CPUs are active, corresponding to a
performance of 4.5 PFLOPS.

with ITU, particularly in providing satellite 3,500 CPUs operating in its data centers in
imagery for humanitarian work 19 . four countries to carry out derivative trades,
which rely on making numerous
In volunteer computing, individuals donate
calculations based on future events, and
unused or idle resources of their computers
risk analysis, which also looks to the future,
to distributed computing projects such as
calculating risks based on available
SETI@home 20 , Folding@home 21 (see Box 2)
information 25 . The German shipyard FSG 26
and LHC@home 22 . A similar mechanism has
uses high performance computing
also been implemented by ITU-R utilizing
resources to solve complex and CPU-
idle PCs of ITU’s staff to carry out the
intensive calculations to create individual
monthly compatibility analysis of HF
ship designs in a short time. On-demand
broadcasting schedules at nighttime.
access to resources, which are not available
The resources of hundreds and thousands locally or which are only needed
PCs are organized with the help of temporarily, reduces cost of ownership and
middleware systems. The Berkeley Open reduces technical and financial risks in the
Infrastructure for Network Computing ship design. By increasing the availability of
(BOINC 23 ) is the most widely-used computing resources and helping to
middleware in volunteer computing made integrate data, grid computing enables
available to researchers and their projects. organizations to address problems that
were previously too large or too complex
Grid technology has emerged from the
for them to handle alone. Other commercial
scientific and academic communities and
applications of grid computing can be found
entered the commercial world. For instance,
in logistics, engineering, pharmaceuticals
the world’s largest company and banking
and the ICT sector. 27
group 24 HSBC uses a grid with more than

ITU-T Technology Watch Reports
Utility computing However, in many cases it proves useful to
employ data centers close to the customer,
The shift from using grids for non-
for example to ensure low rates of latency
commercial scientific applications to using
and packet loss in content delivery
them in processing-intensive commercial
applications. For example, content delivery
applications led to also using distributed
providers such as Akamai 29 or Limelight
systems for less challenging and resource- Networks 30 built their networks of data
demanding tasks. centers around the globe, and interconnect
The concept of utility computing is simple: them with high-speed fiber-optic backbones.
rather than operating servers in-house, These are directly connected to user access
organizations subscribe to an external networks, in order to deliver to a maximum
utility computing service provider and pay of users simultaneously, while minimizing
only for the hardware and software the path between the user and the desired
resources they use. Utility computing relies content.
heavily on the principle of consolidation,
Cloud computing
where physical resources are shared by a
number of applications and users. The Over the years, technology and Internet
principal resources offered include, but are companies such as Google, Amazon,
not limited to, virtual computing Microsoft and others, have acquired a
environments (paid per hour and data considerable expertise in operating large
transfer), and storage capacity (paid per data centers, which are the backbone of
GB or TB used). their businesses. Their know-how extends
beyond physical infrastructure and includes
It is assumed that in-house data centers
experience with software, e.g., office suites,
are idle most of the time due to over-
applications for process management and
provisioning. Over-provisioning is essential
business intelligence, and best practices in
to be sure they can handle peak loads (e.g.,
a range of other domains, such as Internet
opening of the trading day or during holiday
search, maps, email and other
shopping seasons), including unanticipated
communications applications. In cloud
surges in demand. Utility computing allows
computing, these services are hosted in a
companies to pay only for the computing
data center and commercialized, so that a
resources they need, when they need
wide range of software applications are
them. 28 It also creates markets for resource
offered by the provider as a billable service
owners to sell excess capacities, and
(Software as a Service, SaaS) and no
therefore make their data centers (and
longer need to be installed on the user’s
business) more profitable. The example of
PC. 31 For example, instead of Outlook
online retailer Amazon was mentioned in
stored on the PC hard drive, Gmail offers a
Box 1. To increase efficiency, one Amazon
similar service, but the data is stored on
server can host, in addition to a system
the providers’ servers and accessed via a
managing the company’s e-commerce
web browser.
services, multiple other isolated computing
environments used by its customers. These For small and medium-sized enterprises,
virtual machines are software the ability to outsource IT services and
implementations of ‘real’ computers that applications not only offers the potential to
can be customized according to the reduce overall costs, but also can lower the
customers’ needs: processing power, barriers to entry for many processing-
storage capacity, operating system (e.g., intensive activities, since it eliminates the
Linux, MS Windows), software, etc. need for up-front capital investment and
the necessity of maintaining dedicated
With the increasing availability of
infrastructure. Cloud providers gain an
broadband networks in many countries,
additional source of revenue and are able to
some computer utility providers do not
commercialize their expertise in managing
necessarily need to be geographically
large data centers.
distributed or in close proximity to clients:
providers tend to build their data centers in One main assumption in cloud computing
areas with the lowest costs, e.g., for consists of infinite computing resources
electricity, real estate, etc. and with access available on demand and delivered via
to renewable energy (e.g. hydroelectric). broadband. However that is not always the

Distributed Computing: Utilities, Grids & Clouds (March 2009) 5
ITU-T Technology Watch Reports
case. Problems faced by users in developing  Amazon Web Services (AWS)
countries include the high cost of software provide companies of all sizes with an
and hardware, a poor power infrastructure, infrastructure platform in the cloud,
and limited access to broadband. Low-cost which includes computational power,
computing devices 32 equipped with free and storage, and other infrastructure
open source software might provide a services. 40 The AWS product range
solution for the first problem. Although the includes EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), a
number of broadband Internet subscribers web service that provides computing
has grown rapidly worldwide, developed capacity in the cloud, and S3 (Simple
economies still dominate subscriptions, and Storage Service), a scalable storage for
the gap in terms of penetration in the Internet, that can be used to store
developed and developing countries is and retrieve any amount of data, at any
widening 33 . Internet users without time, from anywhere on the web.
broadband access are disadvantaged with
 Google App Engine is a platform for
respect to broadband users, as they are
building and hosting web applications on
unable to use certain applications, e.g.,
infrastructure operated by Google. The
video and audio streaming, online backup
service is currently in “preview”,
of photos and other data. Ubiquitous and
allowing developers to sign up for free
unmetered access to broadband Internet is
and to use up to 500MB of persistent
one of the most important requirements for
storage and enough CPU and bandwidth
the success of cloud computing.
for about 5 million page views a
Applications available in the cloud include month. 41
software suites that were traditionally
 is a vendor of
installed on the desktop and can now be
Customer Relationship Management
found in the cloud, accessible via a web
(CRM) solutions, which it delivers using
browser (e.g., for word processing,
the software as a service model. CRM
communication, email, business intelligence
solutions include applications for sales,
applications, or customer relationship
service and support, and marketing.
management). This paradigm may save is a Platform-as-a-Service
license fees, costs for maintenance and
product of the same vendor that allows
software updates, which makes it attractive
external developers to create add-on
to small businesses and individuals. Even
applications that integrate into the CRM
some large companies have adopted cloud
applications and to host them on the
solutions with the growing capacities,
vendor’s infrastructure. 42
capabilities and success of the service
providers. Forrester Research suggests that  The Azure Services Platform (Azure)
cloud-based email solutions would be less is a cloud services platform hosted in
expensive than on-premise solutions for up Microsoft data centers, which provides
to 15,000 email accounts. 34 Another an operating system and a set of
approach is to outsource certain tasks to developer services that can be used
the cloud, e.g., spam and virus filtering, individually or together. After
and to keep other tasks in the corporate completing its “Community Technology
data center, e.g., the storage of the Preview” launched in October 2008, the
mailbox. services will be priced and licensed
through a consumption-based model. 43
Other typical services offered include web
services for search, payment, identification While there are different pricing models,
and mapping. so-called consumption-based models,
sometimes referred to as “Pay As You Go”
Utility and cloud providers (PAYG), are quite popular and measure the
The list of providers of utility and cloud resources used to determine charges, e.g.,
computing services is growing steadily.  Computing time, measured in
Beside many smaller providers specialized machine hours
cloud and grid services, such as 3tera 35 ,  Transmissions to and from the data
FlexiScale 36 , Morph Labs 37 , RightScale 38 , center, measured in GB
are some of the best known names in web  Storage capacity, measured in GB
and enterprise computing, of which three  Transactions, measured as
(still) have their core activities in other application requests
areas (online retail, Internet search,
software) are: 39

ITU-T Technology Watch Reports
In these types of arrangements, customers Access and usage restrictions: In
are not tied to monthly subscription rates, addition to privacy concerns, the possibility
or other advance payments; they pay only of storing and sharing data in clouds raises
for what they use. concerns about copyright, licenses, and
intellectual property. Clouds can be
Cloud computing and information accessed at any time, by any user with an
policy Internet connection, from any place.
While the main focus of this report is on the Licensing, usage agreements and
impact of distributed computing on future intellectual property rights may vary in
standards work, it should be noted that the different participating countries, but the
continued and successful deployment of cloud hides these differences, which can
computing as a utility presents other cause problems.
challenges, including issues of privacy, Governments will need to carefully consider
security, liability, access, and regulation. the appropriate polices and levels of
Distributed computing paradigms operate regulation or legislation to provide
across borders, and raise jurisdiction and adequate safeguards for distributed
law enforcement issues similarly to those of computing, e.g. by mandating greater
the Internet itself. These issues are briefly precision in contracts and service
described below. agreements between users and providers,
Reliability and liability: As with any other with a possible view to establishing some
telecommunications service, users will minimal levels of protection. These may
expect the cloud to be a reliable resource, include:
especially if a cloud provider takes over the  Basic thresholds for reliability;
task of running “mission-critical”  Assignment of liability for loss or
applications, and will expect clear other violation of data;
delineation of liability if serious problems  Expectations for data security;
occur. Although service disruptions will  Privacy protection;
become increasingly rare, they cannot be  Expectations for anonymity;
excluded. Data integrity and the  Access and usage rights.
correctness of results are other facets of Gartner summarizes seven issues cloud
reliability. Erroneous results, data lost or customers should address before migrating
altered due to service disruptions can have from in-house infrastructure to external
a negative impact on the business of the resources: privileged user access,
cloud user. The matters of reliability, regulatory compliance, data location, data
liability and QoS can be determined in segregation, data recovery, investigative
service-level agreements. support, and long-term viability. 45
Security, privacy, anonymity: It may be While different users (e.g., individuals,
the case that the levels of privacy and organizations, researchers) may have
anonymity available to the user of a cloud different expectations for any of these
will be lower than the user of desktop points when they “outsource” their data
applications. 44 To protect the privacy of and processes to a cloud or grid, it is
cloud users, care must be taken to guard necessary that both providers and policy
the users’ data and applications for makers address these issues in order to
manipulating that data. Organizations may foster user trust and to handle eventual
be concerned about the security of client events of damage or loss.
data and proprietary algorithms;
researchers may be concerned about Future standardization work
unintended release of discoveries; Parallels can be drawn between the current
individuals may fear the misuse of sensitive state of distributed computing and the early
personal information. Since the physical days of networking: independent islands of
infrastructure in a distributed computing systems with little interoperability, only few
environment is shared among its users, any standards and proprietary management
doubts about data security have to be interfaces:
“The problem is that there’s no
standard to move things around. I

Distributed Computing: Utilities, Grids & Clouds (March 2009) 7
ITU-T Technology Watch Reports
think it’s the biggest hurdle that scalability and extensibility of their
cloud computing has to face today. infrastructure. Standards work in these
How do we create an open areas will need to be aware of those who
environment between clouds, so contend that such efforts are premature
that I can have some things reside and could impede innovation. 47
in my cloud and some things in
Other SDOs
other people’s data center? A lot of
work needs to be done.” Padmasree Among the bodies engaged in the
Warrior, CTO, Cisco 46 standardization of distributed computing
concepts are:
The key to realizing the full benefits of
cloud and grid computing may well lie in Common Component http://www.cca-
standardization, particularly in the Architecture Forum
middleware layer and the area of resource (CCA)
interconnection. Distributed
Management Task
In addition to the questions about reliability,
Force (DMTF)
liability, trust, etc., discussed above, the
users of distributed computing Globus Alliance
infrastructure also are likely to be Organization for the http://www.oasis-
concerned about portability and Advancement of
interoperability. Structured
Portability, the freedom to migrate data on
Standards (OASIS)
and off the clouds of different providers,
without significant effort and switching Open Grid Forum
costs, should be a major focus of attention (OGF)
in standardization. Furthermore, Optical
standardized solutions for automation, Internetworking
monitoring, provisioning and configuration Forum (OIF)
of cloud and grid applications need to be
found, in order to provide interoperability. Forum (TMF)
Users may want to employ infrastructure
and services from different providers at the The objective of the Common Component
same time. Architecture (CCA) Forum, formed by
members of the academic high-
Today’s services include both proprietary performance computing community, is to
and open source solutions. Many of them define standards interfaces that a
provide their own APIs (application framework has to provide to components,
programming interfaces) that improve and can expect from them, in order to allow
interoperability by allowing users to adapt disparate components to be interconnected.
their code and applications according to the Such standards would promote
requirements of the service. However, the interoperability between components
APIs are essentially proprietary and have developed by different teams across
not been subject of standardization, which different institutions.
means that users cannot easily extract their
data and code from one site to run on The Distributed Management Task Force
another. Instead they need to repeat (DMTF) is a group of 160 member
adaptation efforts for each cloud service companies and organizations that develops
used. Global standards could allow services and maintains standards for systems
of different vendors to interoperate. management of IT environments in
Standardized interfaces would allow users enterprises and the Internet. These
to use the same code on different standards enable management
distributed computing solutions, which interoperability among multi-vendor
could additionally decrease the risk of a systems, tools, and solutions within the
total loss of data. enterprise in a platform-independent and
technology-neutral way. DMTF standards
On the provider side, there could be an include:
interest in standards for distributed network
management, memory management and  Common Information Model (CIM).
load balancing, identity management and Defines how managed elements in an IT
security, and standards that allow for environment are represented as a
common set of objects and relationships

ITU-T Technology Watch Reports
between them. This is intended to allow The TeleManagement Forum (TMF) is an
consistent management of these industry association focused on
elements, and to interconnect them, transforming business processes,
independent of their manufacturer or operations and systems for managing and
provider. economizing online information,
communications and entertainment services.
 Web-Based Enterprise Management
Existing Internet standards, such as HTTP,
(WBEM) is a set of standardized system
XML, SSL/TLS, developed at W3C, IETF, etc.
management technologies for the
play an important role in the
remote management of heterogeneous
communication between client and
distributed hardware and software
 Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is ITU-T
an open standard used in the resource
The ITU-T has approved a number of
layer for packaging and distributing
Recommendations that indirectly impact on
virtual appliances or more generally
distributed computing.
software to be run in virtual machines.
These concern technical aspects, for
The OGF is an open community committed
instance the work on multimedia coding in
to driving the rapid evolution and adoption
Study Group 16, or on telecommunication
of applied distributed computing. This is
security in Study Group 17, as well as
critical to developing new, innovative and
operational aspects, accounting principles
scalable applications and infrastructures
and QoS, treated in Study Groups 2, 3 and
that are seen as essential to productivity in
the enterprise and the scientific community.
Recommendations developed by the OGF ITU-T Study Groups 13 and 15 48 have
cover middleware and resource liaisons with the Optical Internetworking
interconnection layers and include Forum (OIF), which provides
interoperability agreements (IAs) that
 Open Grid Services Architecture
standardize interfaces for the underlying
(OGSA), which describes a service-
communication infrastructure to enable the
oriented grid computing environment
resources to be dynamically interconnected.
for business and scientific use.
ITU-T Recommendations of the E-Series
 Distributed Resource Management
(“Overall network operation, telephone
Application API (DRMAA), a high-level
service, service operation and human
specification for the submission and
factors”) address some of these points and
control of jobs to one or more
provide, inter alia, definitions related to
Distributed Resource Management
QoS (E.800) and propose a framework of a
Systems (DRMS) within a grid
Service Level Agreement (E.860).
Recommendations in the ITU-T M.3000
 Configuration Description,
series describe the Telecommunication
Deployment, and Lifecycle Management
Management Network protocol model,
(CDDLM) Specification, a standard for
which provides a framework for achieving
the management, deployment and
interconnectivity and communication across
configuration of grid service lifecycles or
heterogeneous operation systems and
inter-organization resources.
telecommunication networks. The TMF
The Globus Alliance is a community of multi-technology network management
organizations and individuals developing solution is referenced in ITU-T
fundamental technologies for the grid. The Recommendation M.3170.0 ff.
Globus Toolkit is an open source grid
middleware component that provides a
standard platform for services to build upon. This Report describes different paradigms
The toolkit includes software for security, for distributed computing, namely grid,
information infrastructure, resource utility and cloud computing. The spread of
management, data management, communication networks, and in particular
communication, fault detection, and the growth of affordable broadband in
portability. developed countries, has enabled

Distributed Computing: Utilities, Grids & Clouds (March 2009) 9
ITU-T Technology Watch Reports
organizations to share their computational
resources. What originally started as grid
computing, temporarily using remote
supercomputers or clusters of mainframes
to address scientific problems too large or
too complex to be solved on in-house
infrastructures, has evolved into service-
oriented business models that offer physical
and virtual resources on a pay as you go
basis – as an alternative to often idle, in-
house data centers and stringent license
The user can choose from a huge array of
different solutions according to its needs.
Each provider offers its own way of
accessing the data, often in the form of
APIs. That complicates the process of
moving from one provider to another, or to
internetwork different cloud platforms.
Increased focus on standards for interfaces,
and other areas suggested in the report,
would enable clouds and grids to be
commoditized and would ensure

ITU-T Technology Watch Reports

Notes, sources and further reading

Foster, I. and Kesselman, C. “The grid: blueprint for a new computing infrastructure,” Morgan Kaufmann Publishers Inc., San
Francisco, CA, 1998
Tanenbaum, A. S. and van Steen, M. “Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms”
Anderson, R. “Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems,” chapter 6
Buyya et al. “Market-Oriented Cloud Computing: Vision, Hype, and Reality for Delivering IT Services as Computing Utilities,”
Tutschku, K. et al. “Trends in network and service operation for the emerging future Internet,” Int J Electron Commun (AEU)
Delic, K. A. and Walker, M. A. “Emergence of the academic computing clouds,” Ubiquity 9, 31 (Aug. 2008), 1-1.
ECW is an enhanced compressed wavelet file format designed for geospatial imagery.
Jaeger et al. “Cloud Computing and Information Policy: Computing in a Policy Cloud?”
infoDev Quick guide: Low-cost computing devices and initiatives for the developing world,
See UNCTAD Information Economy Report 2007-2008,, and ITU World
Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database 2008 (12th Edition),
Delaney “Google plans services to store users' data,” Wall Street Journal
Greenberg ( “Bridging the clouds,”

Distributed Computing: Utilities, Grids & Clouds (March 2009) 11