First, What is Distributed Computing?
The textbook definition is the following: Distributed computing is a field of computer science that studies distributed systems. A distributed system is a system whose components are located on different networked computers, which communicate and coordinate their actions by passing messages to one another from any system. (Tanenbaum, Andrew S.; Steen, Maarten van (2002). Distributed systems: principles and paradigms)
Distributed technologies are not new. One of the most famous distributed computing projects was SETI@home. Launched in 1999, it aimed to find extraterrestrial radio signals in the sky with the help of personal computers of people around the world. “As of 2012 more than 6 million people across 226 countries have participated. Wired reports estimates of 25 trillion calculations per second, more than twice as powerful as the world’s best supercomputer at that time” (https://thenewstack.io/distributed-supercomputing-before-the-cloud-the-legacy-of-setihome/)
Reel back to 2021 and we can observe many other distributed computing applications that are currently operating to achieve scientific breakthroughs. The most famous ones being Folding@Home and Boinc, owned by Stanford and Berkeley respectively, they also run thanks to the processing power of thousands of personal computers around the world.
Folding@home gained notorious interest by the media as a result of their COVID-19 pandemic research. The system achieved a speed of approximately 1.22 exaflops by late March 2020 and reached 2.43 exaflops by April 12, 2020, making it the world's first exaflop computing system and the most powerful “supercomputer” in the world.
However, the demand for computing power is not exclusive to science. In finance, for example, prediction algorithms are becoming increasingly data-heavy. Mainstream application areas like computer vision and natural language processing are now requiring real-time processing which is almost impossible to execute in single processing nodes.
“The growing gap between these demands and the capabilities of even specialized processors leaves system architects no choice but to distribute these computations”, says Ion Stoica, a computer science professor at UC Berkeley and co-founder of AnyScale.
In other words, the demand for processing power is growing faster than what supercomputers can offer, which is why distributed systems will be necessary to supply that computing demand.
So how can businesses benefit from the processing power of distributed computing?
Two words: time and scalability. Think about the following scenario. You run a delivery business and have drivers carrying out packages every single day. What you want is that each driver delivers multiple packages to different locations in the most efficient way, reducing time and costs, right?
To do this you have to program what deliveries are carried out by whom and in what order every single day. You have to consider their schedules, best routes, traffic peak times, weather, and even their coffee break. Let's say you spend 3 hours every evening planning for the next day.
I know what you’re thinking. And you are right. The thing that is going to solve your problem is software. A software capable of taking into account every single aspect of a delivery business to map out the most efficient routes. Instead of spending 3 hours every evening, your software calculates every single route in 30 minutes. What a life savior! Now you can continue procrastinating instead of working.
Problem solved, right? Well not necessarily. After living in this world for more than 30 years, one of the things I’ve learned is that almost nothing goes according to plan. Accidents, road closures, no one at the delivery address, wrong packages are bound to happen all the time.
So you go back to your software to do the necessary changes. But every single time you change the values on the information, your software takes another 30 minutes to process the data and give you the results.
The problem is that your driver’s shift is going to end in 10 minutes, and the last package that they need to return is the one of that furious customer that has been ringing non stop because his item has already been delayed by a couple of days. The package doesn’t arrive, your customer is unhappy and you get a bad review.
What to do now? I guess you need more processing power so that those calculations take just a few minutes instead of half an hour. The problem is that your computer just doesn’t have the juice to do this. Should you buy a new and expensive workstation that is going to be useless in 5 more years? Absolutely not!
Harnessing the power of distributed computing with Motivus
The basic principle is very simple. Instead of having just one computer do all the work, why not combine the processing power of multiple computers? Wow, is it that easy? Well yes, we make it easy.
With distributed computing, you can have a cluster of computers undertaking one or many different tasks simultaneously. From the slow computers of your interns to the workstation of your graphic designers, distributed computing allows you to have your own supercomputer by joining the power of all of your devices together.
Now, what took you 30 minutes to process now only takes 5 minutes. And you didn’t have to spend ANY money on buying new equipment or paying someone else to create better software.
Got a little cocky and want to reduce the processing time of your delivery plan from 5 minutes to 30 seconds? Well, you can try adding the power of your company's phones, tablets, and even your smart refrigerator to the mix!
So, time and scalability. With distributed computing, you can reduce the response time of any calculation and obtain relevant information for your business faster than ever before. You did this by using the technological resources that you already own. And if you ever need more processing power, our distributed computing solutions allow you to incorporate any device into your cluster, from cloud computing servers to even the personal devices of your customers.
Now you can get your packages in time no matter what happens and can ensure that the angry little man gets his Playstation 5 in time and gives you a good review.