How the Media Grid® Works

 

Media Grid standards, technologies and initiatives (such as Immersive Education) are developed by an international collaboration of universities, colleges, research institutes, consortia and companies (see MEMBERS page for details). To join, or for more information, contact the Media Grid standards group director.

 

The Media Grid is a digital media network infrastructure and software-development platform that provides content delivery, storage and processing (compute) services for use by a wide range of networked applications. The Media Grid is powered by service providers (such as rendering farms, clusters, high-performance computer systems, computational grids, and similar systems) that furnish on-demand services to Media Grid clients (users). Client application service requests are received by the Media Grid network over the public Internet and routed to appropriate service providers as the following diagram illustrates:

The Media Grid does not replace or circumvent service providers—it provides open, uniform and simplified access to them. As with the World Wide Web ("Web"), which shields users and developers from the complexity of the Internet, the Media Grid provides a unified view to otherwise complex and potentially closed or proprietary systems. The Web simplifies Internet development and provides a standard browser interface for text-oriented information and basic digital media content. Similarly, the Media Grid makes it easy for developers to access services provided by utility computing vendors, rendering farms, high-performance computing systems, clusters, grids, and other service providers. By making digital media services available through standardized and unified Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs), Grid services, and Web services the Media Grid provides an open public utility that benefits end users, application developers and service providers.

The Media Grid “spine” combines the public Internet backbone with service providers. The Media Grid spine, in turn, enables any application connected to the Internet to access Media Grid services. The Grid Gateway specification defined by the Grid Gateway Technology Group (GGTG) details how service providers connect to, and interact with, the Media Grid network. Specification-compliant Grid Gateway software runs on Media Grid network nodes and is responsible for:

  1. Receiving service requests from client applications
  2. Selecting an appropriate service provider(s) based on service request parameters and settings
  3. Converting the open Media Grid service request format into corresponding native format(s) required by service provider(s)
  4. Routing the appropriately formatted service request to the service provider(s)
  5. Recording the transaction (job metering, accounting, and auditing)
  6. Receiving the results from the service provider
  7. Routing the results to the client application

The following diagram illustrates at a high level the basic concept of service request processing and routing:

 

The Grid Gateway system is similar, in concept, to the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) mechanism defined for the World Wide Web. Whereas the Web's CGI mechanism is a standard for interfacing external applications with Web (HTTP) servers, the Grid Gateway specification defines a standard for interfacing Media Grid clients and middleware with back-end grids, clusters, render farms, scientific workstations, and similar high-performance computing systems. By defining a uniform gateway interface between client-side applications and back-end service provider systems the Media Grid can be extended to support any form of content storage, delivery, or computing system. As the following figure illustrates, Media Grid gateways also enable resource sharing between grids residing across organizational boundaries:

 


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