IBM to Push Grids on the Enterprise

In a push to move grid computing into the mainstream, Big Blue to launch 10 new solutions in five key markets.

IBM announced its grid computing vision Monday, launching 10 new grid solutions in five key markets.

The Armonk, N.Y., company followed its LinuxWorld announcements of last week with a new push to drive grid computing beyond its scientific and technical computing roots and into the mainstream of commercial business enterprises.

IBM is introducing 10 grid offerings targeting five key industries: aerospace, automotive, financial markets, government and life sciences, said Dan Powers, vice president of grid strategy at IBM.

DataSynapse Inc., Platform Computing Inc., Avaki Corp., Entropia Inc. and United Devices Inc. will be middleware suppliers in IBMs grid strategy—with IBM signing reseller agreements with DataSynapse and Platform Computing.

In addition to focusing on five primary markets, IBM will provide grid computing offerings in five basic focus areas: research and development, engineering and design, business analytics, enterprise optimization, and government development, Powers said.

In the financial services market, IBM will offer two grid offerings, an analytics acceleration grid and an IT optimization grid. In life sciences, IBM also will offer two solutions, an analytics acceleration grid and an information accessibility grid. In both the automotive and aerospace markets, IBM will deliver an engineering design grid and a design collaboration grid. And in the government market, the company will deliver an information access grid.

Powers said the tenth IBM grid offering will be in the form of Grid Innovation Workshops where IBM will help companies figure out how grid computing can help them. In addition, IBM published this month an IBM Redbook titled "Introduction to Grid Computing and Globus," Powers said. The company also released an IBM Grid Value Tool, which assesses the value of adding a grid solution to an existing enterprise. IBM has a similar tool for autonomic computing and another one in the works for on-demand computing, he added.

"Grid computing is an underpinning of the IBM On Demand strategy," Powers said. It supports the four key areas of on-demand computing: e-utilities, autonomic computing, grid services and Web services, he said.

Grid computing enables enterprises and users to share computing power, databases and other tools across enterprise boundaries without sacrificing local autonomy.

Powers said in a typical enterprise computing environment, PCs use only 5 percent of their overall capacity, servers only 10 percent to 15 percent, and overall storage only 20 percent to 25 percent of capacity—making a grid strategy a good choice for many enterprises.

IBMs offerings are based on the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA), which supports Web services, he added.

"OGSA is Web services based, and we plan to take OGSA and include it toward the end of the year with WebSphere," Powers said. "And later across DB2 and other IBM products. We believe WebSphere will become the best grid engine in the industry."

In addition, Powers said he believes once IBMs acquisition of Rational Software Corp. is completed, "Rational will be a wonderful way to test applications to run on grids, and WebSphere Studio will be the best way to develop grid applications."

Although IBM expects to sell a lot of hardware and software around this strategy, Powers said, the bulk of the long-term revenues will likely come from services.

Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, a Cambridge, Mass., research firm, 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. 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."