RealTime IT News

Big Blue Turns Green with Grid Computing Deal

IBM revealed a number of supercomputing projects from its Deep Computing unit, which should whet the appetites of those following the 12th Global Grid Forum (GGF) in Brussels, Belgium, next week.

Priming the pump for the "Grids Deployed in the Enterprise" theme of the show, Big Blue unveiled a project in which it will help the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research how to more accurately model air quality and gauge the risks of exposure to air pollution.

The EPA will use a system comprised of Grid Toolbox, which is a suite of standards-based grid software from IBM, IBM eServer pSeries supercomputers and Red Hat's Linux Enterprise 2.1 operating system to provide pay-as-you-go computing services to its partners. The agency is currently considering expanding the project to a production environment.

"This ... system from IBM provides the agency with added speed and increased efficiency focused on improving the nation's health by partnering with the states in their implementation of new clean air standards," said Paul Gilman, assistant administrator for the agency's research and development component, in a statement.

In a sign that grid computing is outgrowing its academia and research cage and moving into the larger enterprise space, the Armonk, N.Y., company has also inked a number of commercial contracts with vendors based in Asia.

The contracts are indicative of the rising popularity of grid computing, which harnesses unused processing cycles of all of the computers in a network for solving problems too intensive for any one machine. IBM, which made a major grid push in April 2003, vies for such deals with rivals HP and Sun Microsystems .

Yurion, a Korean streaming audio provider, asked IBM to produce a grid capable of supporting 100,000 concurrent users and 200 terabytes of storage. The grid includes IBM BladeCenter and xSeries servers, as well as IBM TotalStorage, SAN Volume Controller and TotalStorage FAStT storage systems.

Siemens mobile is using grid infrastructure from IBM to speed the development and improve the quality of its mobile communications software. The grid at Siemens mobile includes eServer xSeries servers running Novell's SUSE Linux.

In conjunction with the IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory, Japanese telco NTT Communications is testing grid and autonomic computing technologies to improve service quality at OCN, NTT Com's Internet connectivity service.

Lastly, China's oil product manufacturer Sinopec has tabbed IBM to create a grid infrastructure to improve access to distributed data that resided in multiple independent silos across the company.

While most of the contracts have been with laboratories or financial services businesses, the interest from Asia-Pacific businesses illustrates that grid applications are catching on in many different vertical markets.

"The range of new grid computing projects announced today, in government, telecommunications, manufacturing, petroleum and digital entertainment, make it clear that grid computing is a force in the commercial enterprise," said Ken King, vice president of Grid Computing at IBM.

Dedicated to the creation of open standards in distributed computing, the Global Grid Forum conference next week will allow technical managers, product strategists, and researchers to discuss the issues of grid computing.