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RealTime IT News

Go West for On Demand Competency

IBM's roots may be in New York, but the heart of its next-generation on demand strategy is in Silicon Valley, where Big Blue has opened up its first on demand "center of competency."

The e-business on demand lab, located in San Jose, is where clients can essentially test drive their On Demand initiatives before they go live. That might include projects to roll out self-healing systems in their networks, virtualized server farms, or build new integration of internal business processes using open standards, to name a few.

Many projects are for customers that are managing a constant spike in traffic on their high-transaction, high-volume Web sites, IBM officials told internetnews.com.

The new center is the first of several new centers IBM plans to open in the next year as part of its 2001 pledge to invest $10 billion (over the next decade) in research, acquisitions, marketing and training centers devoted to e-business on demand. Dr. Willy Chiu, an IBM vice president who heads the center, said it is actually an extension of IBM's existing High Volume Web Site Lab.

Given the center's locale, many customers are based in the Bay Area, such as Charles Schwab, Cigna and Federated Department Stores, which owns Macy's Department Store.

Chiu said the center will house experts from IBM Software, IBM Research and other parts of the company where some of the world's top experts in high-performance Internet computing as well as hundreds of server computers and other equipment.

For example, Chiu said his team has worked with financial services company Charles Schwab on new software that helps manage business applications running on different servers.

"One of the new technologies simplifies and automates complex scheduling of workflows as applications move around a grid of servers," Chiu said. Another project is called the Math Shell -- a development environment for the math-intensive applications that are critical in the financial services industry.

"Companies want to jump to the next level in the quantity and quality of their business transactions over the Internet. They want to reliably handle ever-increasing amount of traffic, choreograph the vast number of scenarios that develop when they interact with customers, partners and employees via the Web, and automate more business processes that are specific to their industries."

In another customer example, Cigna is using the IBM High Volume Web Site team to "virtualize" its WebSphere environment in order to apply new techniques and emerging On Demand technologies for 33 of its applications, IBM officials said.

"Our goal is to help them capture the benefits of improving utilization of servers from, say 10 percent to up to 50 or 60 percent utilization," he said. "This helps reduce cost of ownership."

It's also part of IBM's goal with On Demand computing to help customers "generate more profits, and new ideas."