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IBM To Offer Globus Grid Software For UNIX

IBM announced Wednesday that it will become the first major UNIX vendor to offer a commercial version of the Globus Toolkit Grid management software.

Platform Computing announced the first commercial version of Globus in March.

The Globus announcement is one of several new features IBM said it will include in its AIX operating system to "supercharge compute-intensive applications."

The AIX toolbox for Grid applications is based on the Globus open source protocols, the de facto standard for Grid computing. IBM said it is the first major UNIX vendor to offer the Globus software in product form, "providing customers with the confidence of using an IBM supported product."

The toolbox, which IBM is offering free of charge, is middleware that allows users to share supercomputing power, data and applications "as easily as information is shared over the Web," IBM said.

The software also connects "large numbers of disparate servers into vast mega-computers," and allows application developers to create Grid-based applications, IBM said. Grid builders using the toolbox on AIX may take advantage of the operating system's advanced scalability and high-availability features, the company said.

Also new in the AIX toolbox are enhanced install and configuration features, improved security tools, and the addition of IBM service and support. Other new additions include a Message Passing Interface (MPI), Advanced Reservation, and IBM LoadLeveler integration. IBM LoadLeveler is a batch job scheduling facility that matches job requirements with the best available resources, the company said.

IBM said systems running the AIX operating system power some of the world's most powerful computer Grids. In March, IBM and the US Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center announced that two IBM supercomputers running AIX will power a Grid that will ultimately grow into a system capable of processing more than ten trillion calculations per second and storing information equivalent to 200 times the number of books in the Library of Congress.

New Features Geared Toward Speed

AIX 5L contains the industry's most sophisticated Linux interoperability functions, IBM said. The new features will improve the speed of bandwidth-intensive workloads, such as Business Intelligence applications that search massive corporate data warehouses, as well as High Performance Computing applications, such as automobile safety test simulations, the company said.

IBM said the new features include large data transfer, enabling bigger chunks of information to be accessed more efficiently in the computer's memory. AIX offers support for the traditional 4 KB page size and for the new 16 MB "large page" size. Large page usage increases performance for systems running compute-intensive workloads, such as big commercial databases, which use massive amounts of virtual memory.

The new features also include localization, giving processors running a particular workload optimized access to system memory components and further increasing performance.

AIX is also based on Project eLiza technology, which brings to it a new dimension of manageability over high-performance applications, IBM said. AIX allows the system to self-configure, with features such as Capacity Upgrade on Demand and Processor De-allocation. Self-protecting capabilities including First Failure Data Capture, which IBM said is not available on Solaris, and Predictive Failure Analysis, to help prevent and contain system outages. IBM said AIX is self-healing and manages system redundancy technologies to eliminate unnecessary service calls, and is self-optimizing with advanced functionality, including the workload manager and Logical Partitioning (LPAR).

Sun Takes Issue With IBM Announcement

Sun Microsystems, which made its own UNIX announcement Wednesday, claimed that "there is nothing open about the Grids IBM will set up with AIX 5L. IBM's solution bundles the open source Globus software with the proprietary AIX-only IBM LoadLeveler software, resulting in a Grid that doesn't support heterogeneous systems - even IBM Linux systems can't be integrated in a Grid using Globus and IBM LoadLeveler."

IBM officials responded that the use of LoadLeveler with Globus software, "although of great benefit to IBM customers who have deployed this product, is optional and is not required to be able to use IBM's productized version of Globus software."

IBM said its offering "is based on Global Grid Forum specifications and the Globus Project's Globus software. This open source software is available on multiple platforms from the Globus Project, including Solaris, Windows, Linux, IRIX and of course AIX."