IBM Unveils Grid “Bundles”

Bundled grids are tailored to the requirements of specific verticals

IBM Corp. this week unveiled a variety of bundles designed to spur the adoption of grid computing in specific vertical industries.

Big Blue announced that brokerage firm Charles Schwab successfully deployed an “Analytics Acceleration Grid” that has reduced the processing time for one of its financial applications from four minutes to 15 seconds.

IBM worked with Charles Schwab's Advanced Technology Group to move an existing wealth management application over from non-IBM systems to IBM xSeries servers running Red Hat Linux. Charles Schwab’s grid was enabled by means of the open source software (OSS) Globus Toolkit, a set of tools designed to allow organizations to build computational grids.

“The benefits of grid computing for e-business on demand are here; it’s now and it’s real,” said IBM GM of worldwide grid computing Tom Hawk in a company announcement. Hawk touted the release of version 3.0 of the Globus Toolkit, which he described as the first OGSA-compliant grid middleware.

OGSA, or open grid services architecture, defines an architecture that automatically makes grid resources available to applications that require additional computing capacity.

The goal of OGSA, says Bill Philbin, senior vice-president of product development and chief operating officer with IBM grid partner Entropia, is to provide transparent application connectivity to, and maximize resource utilization across, computational grids: “[E]ventually a customer who wants to run any kind of compute-intensive application will be able to say: ‘Here’s the application, here’s the data, here are my requirements, I don’t care where it runs, just get it back to me in the timeframe I specify.”

Thanks to the release of Globus Toolkit 3.0 and its OGSA support, IBM’s Hawk suggests that “the commercial market for Grids is set to expand."

Big Blue Touts Grids for Verticals

Big Blue announced five focus areas in which it intends to develop grid solutions for the aerospace, automotive, financial markets, government and life sciences industries. IBM says that in 2003 it will introduce computational grids to support R&D, engineering and design, business analytics, enterprise optimization and government development for all five industries.

For customers in the financial markets industry, for example, IBM says that business analytics and enterprise optimization are key focus areas. To that end, it will introduce two grid solutions: an Analytics Acceleration Grid and an IT Optimization Grid. The former is designed to accelerate trading analytic operations and increase computation throughput, while the latter is designed to help customers exploit underutilized compute and storage resources. Big Blue indicates that the grid that it developed in conjunction with Charles Schwab is but one example of an Analytics Acceleration Grid.

Similarly, for the automotive and aerospace industries, IBM identifies engineering and design as a key focus area. It plans to offer two grid solutions for each industry, an Engineering Design Grid as well as a Design Collaboration Grid. The former is architected to optimize a company’s use of its existing infrastructure, while the latter is designed to facilitate data sharing and distributed workflow between partners.

For government customers, finally, IBM will offer an Information Access Grid that is said to maximize the use of existing data resources and other assets through a unified data and file interface.

Big Blue also confirms that it has established master relationship agreements with two additional grid middleware vendors: Platform Computing and DataSynapse. IBM has existing agreements in place with grid middleware providers Avaki, Entropia and United Devices.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.