IBM makes move to extend grid

In a bid to extend the reach of grid computing outside of the academic and research fields that created it, IBM Corp. on Friday will announce that it has formalized five new grid services offerings within its IBM Global Services and IBM Consulting Services groups.

The new offerings are designed to help customers work with IBM to assess and plan for grid computing deployments, IBM said.

“It’s five new formal services offerings from IBM based on the experiences that we’ve had with hundreds of customer engagements around the world,” said Dan Powers, IBM’s vice-president of grid computing strategy.

Now that they are classified as “formal service offerings,” these services will be deployed “better and faster” than they had been in the past, said Powers. He stopped short of saying that they would cost less, however.

One such offering, called Grid Value at Work, helped convince financial information publishing company Bowne & Co Inc., in New York, to embark on a three and a half month pilot grid computing project that ended in August last year, IBM said.

Grid Value at Work includes assessment software that shows executives the return on investment and cost savings they can expect from adopting a grid application architecture. IBM services staff enter data about a customer’s computing resources and workloads, and the software provides the analysis. “It’s really a detailed financial analysis that not only the CIO would love, but the CFO would love it as well,” said Powers.

During its pilot project, Bowne & Co. worked with IBM and software vendor DataSynapse Inc. to grid-enable a statement-processing component of its Vax-based Bowne Integrated Typesetting System application. This let the software be run in a distributed fashion on a handful of Windows desktops and servers when those systems were not being fully used, said Ruth Harenchar, the company’s CIO and senior vice president.

Though Bowne & Co. did save money by using existing equipment to run the grid-enabled application, the main benefit of the grid was its flexibility, Harenchar said.

The ability to tap existing resources during busy times holds particular appeal for a seasonal business like Bowne & Co.’s, Harenchar said. Each quarter, the company is deluged with work as companies rush to report their March, June, September and December financial results, she said.

Bowne & Co. now plans to grid-enable a larger module of its typesetting system, and Harenchar is optimistic about the company’s first tentative steps into grid computing. “The initial indications are that it’s very much worth the effort,” she said.

IBM’s new offerings are:

— Grid Value at Work: The total cost of ownership assessment service.

— Business Impact of Technology: For assessing the impact of grid computing on business processes.

— Grid Solution Deployment: For planning and designing grid deployments.

— Autonomic Computing Readiness Engagement: Helps plan systems management with IBM’s self-configuring “autonomic” computing systems.

— Autonomic Computing Design and Implementation, which is used for deploying autonomic systems.

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