RealTime IT News

Big Blue Grids Cleveland

IBM is intent on shifting grid computing from the research lab to commercial deployments.

The Armonk, N.Y., company Wednesday debuted its Economic Development Grid, a plan to bring advanced computing to government agencies, universities and local businesses.

For the last several years, grid computing has been confined to research labs in various parts of the country, where computer whizzes crunched numbers on groups of machines operating as a hive mind to perform complex computations.

In the last few years, vendors such as Sun Microsystems , Cray and SGI have looked to break grid computing out of its research mold and into governments.

But no vendor has put so much emphasis on the evolution as IBM. The systems vendor said in a statement that governments, health care, life sciences, software development, digital media, manufacturing and petroleum industries are seeking the advanced computing grid can provide.

For the Economic Development Grid, IBM first set its sights on OneCleveland, a non-profit agency funded by government, educational, research and health care groups that provides broadband networking services. The group is an enabler of computing networks by piping gigabit-speed Internet access.

IBM worked with OneCleveland to help health care, education, research and government organizations use grid computing technology to better collaborate on projects. The idea is that the sophisticated computing will eventually help the region lure new businesses and professional talent, as well as provide more jobs.

To wit, the Healthcare Collaborative Grid is a plan to allow hospitals to share information, laying the foundation for improved health care for patients through better collaboration among doctors. For example, the grid could make sure the right MRIs get to the right medical professionals or even the right medication gets to the right patient.

There is also a K-12 Outreach Grid to let teachers tap into the resources from other school systems, universities and content providers. Teachers in this grid program hope to deliver better educational programs.

The Higher Education Collaborative Grid will make education more accessible to students who may not have been able to participate, providing an increase in attendance in local Ohio universities.

OneCleveland President Scot Rourke said his organization has worked with IBM for the last two years on the project. He declined to discuss specific technology because the grid programs are in various degrees of building mode.

"We started out doing an inventory of the community of economic development opportunities using grid," Rourke said. "We sent out surveys, we did interviews and we identified the applications as terrific opportunities. We are coordinating amongst the champions in each of those areas to integrate their highly varied technologies."