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Trying to hasten the acceptance of its Grid Computing initiative outside the walls of academia and among commercial users, IBM Corp. on Tuesday announced it is working with global grid pioneer Avaki Corp.

As part of the alliance, Avaki will make its Avaki 2.1 software, a commercial package that integrates both data grid and compute grid functions, available to IBM as part of Big Blue's recently announced Grid Innovation Centre in France.

IBM's Grid Innovation Centre is a place where users can explore a variety of grid technologies as well as learn about the potential commercial benefits of it. Avaki's grid software will be available to IBM's European users and partners for demonstrations, prototyping of applications, and evaluations, a company spokesman said.

Complementing the alliance, IBM's Life Sciences Division has bought several licenses of Avaki's software for its own internal use as well as for client evaluation purposes, according to a company spokesman.

"We are beginning to see tremendous demand for grid solutions in life sciences. We think Avaki's grid software combined with our hardware platform, which Avaki now supports, should allow a much larger number of life science companies to take advantage of grid-based services" said Steve Beckhardt, distinguished engineer and chief architect of IBM's Life Sciences Solutions in Somers, N.Y.

Officials from both companies claim to see an increasing demand outside of scientific markets, such as pharmaceuticals and bioinformatics, for grid technologies from a number of different commercial vertical markets.

"We are seeing demand from financial services and the manufacturing sectors. Our work with IBM, which began with the standards initiatives proposed at the Global Grid Forum in February, is now being extended by these efforts to inform and educate more customers," said Dave Fish, Avaki's president and CEO.

Also under the agreement Avaki will increase support for IBM's users by extending its computing platform to support AIX. Avaki's platform currently supports Linux, several Unix platforms, and Windows.

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