IBM outlines grid plan

Building on the momentum it gathered earlier this year, IBM Corp. last month identified four additional verticals to which it will offer products for its grid-computing strategy.

In total, six solutions will be offered to the electronics, higher education and petroleum industries, with two being designed for the agriculture and chemical sector. The focus areas include research and development, business analytics and engineering and design grid computing, explained Dan Powers, vice-president, grid computing at IBM in Somers, N.Y. The company’s global services arm will support the grid implementation process for customers running IBM and non-IBM hardware and software.

In January, Big Blue targeted the financial, automotive, aerospace, government and life sciences sectors and dished out 10 grid computing solutions. In addition to the grid products, IBM announced the creation of a grid ecosystem that includes 35 companies that will partner with the vendor in the grid marketplace. The partners include Cisco Systems Inc., Calypso Technology Inc., Force10 Networks Inc. and Accelrys Inc.

“You need grid middleware to build a grid of systems within an IT environment (and) in this announcement you’ll notice the partners are more industry focused and application focused. It’s one thing to install a grid but if you can’t get applications that are going to be to run on that grid, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to deploy it,” Powers said.

Bill St. Arnaud, senior director network projects at CANARIE in Ottawa, said although grid computing is ahead of the corporate community, vendors such as CGI Group Inc., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. are all moving forward with strategies that will change the face of computing.

“We think grid computing is really a part of a larger picture that will revolutionize the Internet itself by the tools that are being developed by the grid computing community and the Global Grid Forum. Rather than just selling cycles on a computer, you can think of grids as providing services over the Net,” St. Arnaud said.

The challenge that researchers and the commercial arena face are the applications, as many of them were designed for stand-alone machines “and to port these to a grid environment is usually the biggest task,” he noted.

IBM’s Powers said that even if grid computing hasn’t reached its pinnacle yet, there remains a utopia that the vendor sees for the technology.

“The vision is we want to get to a world where we’re not going to be talking about grid anymore, it’s just the way you do IT. You have many systems and they are tied together into a grid and the applications work on that grid, and that’s where we want to get to,” he said.

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