IBM, seeking to push grid computing beyond its scientific and technical roots and into the mainstream of commercial business enterprises, last week announced its grid computing vision and 10 new solutions for five key markets.
Grid computing enables enterprises and users to share computing power, databases and other tools across enterprise boundaries without sacrificing local autonomy.
Current grid users welcome more of it. Butterfly.net Inc. uses a grid architecture "because when we designed a server infrastructure for video games, we knew we had to build a system flexible enough to handle any number of concurrent players," said David Levine, president and CEO of Butterfly.net, a Martinsburg, W.Va., infrastructure provider for online games.
Levine said clustering options were not enough. He said Butterfly.net began working with IBM two years ago on a grid architecture. The company settled on IBM because it had Linux running across its product line and supported grid standards, he said.
Last week, IBM introduced grid offerings for the aerospace, automotive, financial and life sciences industries, as well as for the government, said Dan Powers, vice president of grid strategy at IBM, in Armonk, N.Y.
IBM is partnering with DataSynapse Inc., Platform Computing Inc., Avaki Corp., Entropia Inc. and United Devices Inc. as middleware suppliers. IBM also signed reseller agreements with DataSynapse and Platform Computing. IBM will provide services in five basic areas: research and development, engineering and design, business analytics, enterprise optimization, and government development, Powers said.
In financial services, IBM will offer two grid offerings, an analytics acceleration grid and an IT optimization grid. In life sciences, IBM will also offer two solutions, an analytics acceleration grid and an information accessibility grid. In the automotive and aerospace markets, IBM will deliver an engineering design grid and a design collaboration grid. In the government market, IBM will deliver an information access grid.
The other grid offering will be in the form of Grid Innovation Workshops, with which IBM will help companies figure out how grid computing can help them.
Powers said that in a typical enterprise computing environment, PCs use only 5 percent of their overall capacity, servers 10 to 15 percent and storage devices 20 to 25 percent of capacity, making a grid strategy a good choice for many enterprises.
Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, a Cambridge, Mass., research company, picked up on that theme: "Its not clear that IBMs grid computing strategy is truly service-oriented—that is, exposing heterogeneous network resources as services to customers.
"The story is more of an outsourced systems strategy rather than a true services story," Bloomberg said. "They incorporate Web services standards in the underlying grid computing technology, but the services story is lost when presenting solutions to customers.
"This deficiency is somewhat surprising considering that there are parts of IBM who very strongly support service orientation," he said.