IBM announces new grid products, customers

IBM Corp. increased the number of industry-specific grid computing products in its roster Monday, bringing custom grid-computing applications and services to the petroleum, agricultural chemicals, electronics, and higher education industries.

IBM's grid-computing effort centers around bringing a company's existing resources together to create supercomputing power without the acquisition and maintenance costs of an actual supercomputer. It brings clustered systems and individual computers together with middleware and other applications on a network for high-intensity computing projects, said Dan Powers, vice president of grid computing strategy at IBM.

For example, many companies that are working on something like geophysical modeling of a suspected oil field already have a network of servers crunching the data needed for that application, Powers said. But they also have high-end workstations and other servers that aren't necessarily running at full capacity at all times, and can be used to supplement the data-modeling efforts when not in use, he said.

IBM can provide customers with hardware and software to build that network, and partners such as Cisco Systems Inc. help companies tie it all together, Powers said. Cisco's storage-area networking products are resold by IBM for grid-computing projects, and Cisco will enhance those products specifically for grid applications, IBM said in a press release.

IBM Global Services will also help potential customers evaluate whether their infrastructure and computing needs could be helped by a grid computing network, and can run and manage that grid for customers on IBM's own infrastructure, Powers said.

The Armonk, New York, company has grid computing products for a total of nine industries including aerospace, automotive, financial markets, government, and life sciences, in addition to the ones announced Monday.

RBC Insurance Services Inc., Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and The Kansai Electric Power Co. Inc. are all new customers of IBM's grid computing services. The companies have either deployed or are evaluating a mix of IBM technologies in their grid computing efforts, including IBM xSeries servers running Linux or IBM pSeries servers running AIX, Powers said.

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