IBM Debuts System S Stream Computing Platform

At IBM's annual investor meeting on May 13, the IT infrastructure and software company announces the commercialization of System S, IBM's stream computing software that advances parallelism to deliver real-time business analytics.

At its annual investor meeting on May 13, IBM announced the commercialization of System S, the company's stream computing software that advances parallelism to deliver real-time business analytics capability.

IBM also announced the opening of the IBM European Stream Computing Center, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. The center will "serve as a hub of research, customer support and advanced testing for what is expected to be a growing base of European clients who wish to apply stream computing to their most challenging business problems," IBM said in a news release.

Nagui Halim, chief scientist forIBM's System S project, said the effort started as a project in IBM Research at the end of 2003 that became one of the largest software research projects ever conducted inside IBM Research. Halim said with System S and stream computing the focus is on delivering insight and foresight, not hindsight. According to the IBM release:

"System S is built for perpetual analytics-utilizing a new streaming architecture and breakthrough mathematical algorithms to create a forward-looking analysis of data from any source-narrowing down precisely what people are looking for and continuously refining the answer as additional data is made available.For example, System S can analyze hundreds or thousands of simultaneous data streams-stock prices, retail sales, weather reports, etc.-and deliver nearly instantaneous analysis to business leaders who need to make split-second decisions. The software can help all organizations that need to react to changing conditions in real time, such as government and law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, retailers, transportation companies, healthcare organizations, and more."

Moreover, IBM is commercializing the technology at a time when clients need it most-during the global economic crisis. "Using computers to rapidly analyze multiple streams of diverse, unstructured and incompatible data sources in real time, enabling fast, accurate and insightful decisions," as IBM described the potential of System S, can be a competitive advantage for companies.

For instance, global market data is growing at a rapid rate and "needs to be ingested, decoded, processed and responded to in short order," and System S enables users to do that, IBM contended.

Indeed, Halim said TD Securities is using System S to ingest more than 5 million bits of trading data per microsecond to make faster financial trading decisions. To match the capacity of the system, a trader would have to be able to read the entire works of Shakespeare 10 times in less than 1 second and then identify and execute a stock trade faster than a hummingbird flaps its wings, he said.

"System S software is another example of IBM helping clients through our long-term investments in business analytics and advanced mathematics," John Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research, said in a statement. "The ability to manage and analyze incoming data in real time, and use it to make smarter decisions, can help businesses and other enterprises differentiate themselves."

According to the release:

"IBM is making System S trial code available at no cost to help clients better understand the software's capabilities and how they can take advantage of it for their business. This trial code includes developer tools, adapters and software to test applications."

Halim said the System S software can be configured to run on a supercomputer, a cluster of blades or even a single computer. Its first iteration is aimed at commodity hardware, he said. And it can be configured to attack a broad set of problems across a wide range of industries, he said.