In the past, the benefits of grid computing have mainly been reaped by academic and research institutions, however IBM Ltd. announced Monday the availability of its new grid computing solutions to help companies in other sectors maximize their computing processing power.

Focusing on the aerospace, automotive, financial, government and life sciences sectors, IBM has developed 10 grid-computing solutions. They are based around five focus areas – research and development (R&D), engineering and design, business analytics, enterprise optimization, and government development.

The solution includes hardware, software, and services and IBM’s grid-computing solutions are built to work in multi-vendor heterogeneous environments.

In tandem with the offerings, IBM also announced increased involvement with two of its middleware partners, Markham, Ont.-based Platform Computing Inc., and New York-based, DataSynapse Inc. It has also partnered with Avaki Corp., Entropia Inc., and United Devices. These companies produce middleware especially for grid computing applications.

“The solutions are pretty similar as you start to go down through them with slight differences between middleware partners,” said Dan Powers, vice-president of grid computing, strategy and technology for IBM, based in Somers, N.Y.

For example, the Analytics Acceleration Grid for the financial markets is designed to enhance a company’s competitiveness in trading by accelerating analytics operations and increasing computational throughput.

However, the Analytics Acceleration Grid option for Life Sciences is designed to accelerate drug discovery by increasing the processing time for calculations. While similar, these two solutions would be comprised of different software and hardware platforms better suited to each industry.

Powers said IBM would work with companies in order to help them design the best grid-computing solution. This includes the option for clients unfamiliar with grid computing to attend a three-to-five-day IBM ‘Grid Innovation Workshop’ to learn the basics, pick potential projects, and come up with a grid architecture.

IBM, based in White Plains, N.Y., also developed analytical software called the Grid Value Tool. Powers said once installed on a network it could “document the existing IT environment and run it through a mathematical and financial model to give them a report back on where they could use grid today.”

“We could help architect and build this for the customers all the way through actually hosting it for [them] on our premise,” he said.

When asked about scalability, Powers said grid computing can be applied to any sized network, even something as simple as only three computers, and pricing would vary depending on the individual circumstances of each implementation.

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