28 January 2003 Systems giant IBM has unveiled ten grid computing products aimed at a number of major vertical industry sectors.
The new products – a combination of middleware and open-source software, hardware and IT services – are a bid by IBM to take the emerging grid computing technology out of academic domains and into enterprises.
The idea of grid computing is to link together computers over the Internet to provide computing resources, such as storage, databases or applications, to users on demand.
IBM said that online broker Charles Schwab and oil company PDVSA were already testing its products. In one test, Charles Schwab had reduced the processing time for a financial services application from four minutes to 15 seconds, according to IBM.
To do this, the systems giant had “grid-enabled” the existing application that ran on non-IBM systems with grid computing software tools running on Red Hat Linux software on a cluster of IBM’s xSeries Intel servers.
IBM’s grid computing packages rely heavily on the Globus Toolkit software from the open-source development group The Globus Project. However, IBM released a version of its own grid software tools, based on the Globus architecture, last year.
The latest version of the Globus toolkit is intended to link grid computing architectures with web services technology, but is still in its testing phase.
Targeted at the aerospace, automotive, financial services, government and life sciences industries, IBM’s products are aimed at computing tasks that require a considerable amount of computer power, such as complex design collaboration and analysis of financial data.
IBM will supply two products each for financial services and life sciences companies, four for the automotive and aerospace industry and one for government bodies. Finally, it will also offer grid computing workshops in France, Japan, New York and California to try to help organisations examine how grid technology might affect their business.
For example, for aerospace and automotive companies, IBM will supply design collaboration and engineering design products to help them to pool together processing power on existing machines to better share data and distribute computing workloads across their internal, and external, networks.
To further flesh out its offerings, IBM said it had established technology partnerships with five middleware suppliers: Platform Computing and DataSynapse – which both specialise in distributed applications – as well as Avaki, Entropia and United Devices.
But IBM is not the only major supplier targeting the nascent grid computing market. Unix systems vendor Sun Microsystems has already released its own grid computing software toolkit, while rival Hewlett-Packard and microprocessor giant Intel have also touted their own initiatives.