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IBM's Expanding Grid Services

IBM Friday unveiled grid and autonomic computing services that combine business consulting knowledge with research and technology to help customers get the edge on their competitors by saving themselves time and resources.

Once a concept trapped in the computer science realm, grid computing -- the idea of drawing computing power from many IT resources and running them as a single computer -- has been gaining popularity. So, too, has autonomic computing, which is IBM's technology for helping computers self-manage and regulate themselves.

Both grid and autonomic methods have opened up new opportunities in the IT sector and many vendors are looking to offer both technologies to compete. Other companies including Oracle, HP and Sun Microsystems, have embraced both the grid approach and autonomic features into their products and business models.

IBM's news that it plans to bring together staffers from IBM Business Consulting Services and IBM Global Services with experts in emerging technologies at IBM Research are indicative of IBM's dedication to the grid concept. More broadly, grid practices dovetail with IBM's company-wide practice for delivering computing resources on demand, so that customers can control how much utilities they use.

Sageza Research analyst Charles King said grids allow companies to better realize the value and power of computing infrastructures, and ensure support for critical business processes. But, he cautioned, widespread adoption may be a bit off in the distance.

"While companies besides IBM are also developing grid solutions, vendors are waiting for businesses to catch up with grid as both a concept and an available solution," King said in a research note. "To that end, IBM's new service offerings provide customers concrete methods of measuring the potential benefits of grid, and of efficiently deploying grid environments. By educating its customers about grid, IBM is also demystifying a still relatively arcane technology with real-world applications and benefits. At the end of the day, by helping others IBM is also potentially helping itself."

The new services include:

  • IBM Grid Value at Work practice, an assessment methodology that provides customers with a total cost of ownership analysis and roadmap for grid computing
  • IBM Business Impact of Technology Services, which help customers identify the impact that grid computing can have on business processes, as well as revenue generation
  • Grid Solution Deployment Services to help customers design and run grids based on their business goals
  • Autonomic Computing Readiness Engagement services to help customers increase systems management automation
  • Autonomic Computing Design and Implementation Services, which employs IBM Global Services and IBM Research experts to assist customers in the architecture and design of autonomic environments.
Document management provider Bowne & Co. was one of the first customers for the new services. Bowne used them to respond to monthly and quarterly spikes in demand for the processing and printing of critical financial documents and to add processing power for projects on the fly.