RealTime IT News

IBM, Cisco Partner On Grid Computing

Cisco will work with IBM to develop enhanced Grid services for Storage Area Networks (SANs) as part of a 35-company commercial Grid computing initiative launched by Big Blue.

IBM also expanded its commercial Grid offerings, including solutions for the petroleum, electronics, higher education and agricultural chemicals industries, and announced that RBC Insurance, Royal Dutch Shell and Kansai Electric Power have become Grid customers.

IBM's initiative to build a "Grid ecosystem" consists of software vendors and Business Partners that will help develop commercial Grid solutions. Cisco joins more than 35 new and existing Business Partners and other vendors to form the foundation of the developing IBM Grid ecosystem, Big Blue said.

IBM and Cisco are working together to enable enhanced Grid services for SANs. Cisco's intelligent multilayer storage networking architecture will help lay the foundation for building globally scalable access to Grid data, IBM said. The integration of intelligent services into the network will help simplify data access across the Grid and improve resource sharing and management. Earlier this year, IBM began reselling Cisco MDS 9000 SAN switches. Cisco has plans to enhance these switches to enable globally scalable access to data through Grids.

"The ability to access storage in a scalable and secure way is a critical component in Grid computing, allowing businesses and their partner companies to manage massive amounts of data and to collaborate worldwide," said Soni Jiandani, vice president of marketing in the Storage Technology Group at Cisco. "The IBM and Cisco solution is an important step in delivering the very real benefits of Grid and on demand computing to businesses of all sizes."

The announcement expands the existing global strategic alliance between Cisco and IBM in Internet infrastructure, e-business systems and services to deliver end-to-end Internet business solutions to enterprise and service provider customers.

Application software vendors joining Cisco in IBM's Grid ecosystem initiative include: life sciences firm Accelrys; financial analytics company Calypso Technology; Cadence; Force10 Networks; energy industry solutions firm Landmark Graphics Corp.; Mercury Interactive; and MSC.Software.

More than twenty IBM Business Partners also are helping to form the IBM Grid ecosystem.

"Grid is an industry-wide effort built and designed around open standards," said Tom Hawk, IBM's general manager of Grid computing. "IBM is working to bring business partners, developers, system integrators, middleware companies, and IT vendors of all shapes and sizes together to form a Grid ecosystem that will accelerate the adoption of Grids in the enterprise."

IBM Announces New Grid Customers, Offerings

RBC Insurance took an existing application and Grid-enabled it based on IBM eServer xSeries and middleware from IBM Business Partner Platform Computing, the leading Grid computing vendor. The integrated solution allowed RBC Insurance to reduce by 75% the time spent on job scheduling, and by 97% the time spent processing an actuarial application. RBC Insurance is now looking to expand the IBM and Platform Computing solution across additional applications and business units to improve efficiencies.

"IBM and Platform Computing Grid-enabled our valuation application and supporting infrastructure for immediate results," said Keith Medley, RBC's head of Insurance Technology. "With the integrated solution, we have been able to reduce a 2 1/2-hour job to 10 minutes, and an 18-hour job to 32 minutes."

IBM worked with Royal Dutch Shell to build a reusable software toolkit that works as a wrapper around existing applications, creating a Grid-enabled infrastructure for the company's seismic interpretation applications. The solution, based on IBM eServer xSeries running the Globus Toolkit and Linux, cut the processing time of seismic data while improving the quality of the data, allowing Royal Dutch Shell employees to focus on key scientific problems.

The Kansai Electric Power Co., Japan's second-largest electric utility, is working with IBM to develop an information-based Grid that will allow KEPCO to federate and virtualize various data sources across the enterprise. The Grid solution will integrate information distributed across departments and affiliated companies to enable information sharing using existing systems and to develop new businesses more rapidly at a minimum cost.

IBM, which in January announced its commercial Grid strategy built around the aerospace, automotive, financial markets, government and life science industries, is adding new offerings for four additional industries:

Agricultural Chemical (Research and Development and Business Analytics Focus) -- IBM is offering an Analytics Acceleration Grid and an Information Access Grid. The Analytics Acceleration Grid can help speed scientific discoveries, including producing high value seeds, by improving computing and storage resources. The Information Access Grid is designed to help customers maximize exploitation of data resources by efficiently managing data volumes and non-standard data formats required for new discovery in fields such as molecular biology.

Electronics (Engineering and Design Focus) -- IBM is offering an Engineering Design Grid and Design Collaboration Grid. The Engineering Design Grid will help electronics companies aggregate disparate elements such as compute and data resources from suppliers, OEMs and contract electronics manufacturers (CEMs) to create a single unified system to help accelerate new product introductions. The Design Collaboration Grid will enhance data sharing across partners requiring intensive manufacturing processes and electronic design automation (EDA) tools.

Higher Education (Research and Development Focus) -- IBM is offering a University Collaboration Grid, which enables seamless sharing of large amounts of raw research data among researchers and across institutions by providing a flexible and expandable infrastructure that can adapt to changing research requirements.

Petroleum (Engineering Design Focus and IT Optimization) -- IBM is offering a Geophysical Processing and Analysis Grid and an IT Optimization Grid. The Geophysical Processing and Analysis Grid is designed to reduce seismic imaging time and improve reservoir management results by providing better access to key analytical tools and applications, available when and where required, and scalable to meet the demands of projects that require peak resources. The IT Optimization Grid can help customers exploit underutilized compute and storage resources while improving flexibility and scalability.

The Grid offerings are designed to operate in a heterogeneous environment and will incorporate the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) framework for the convergence of Grid computing with Web services. IBM Global Services will support all elements of a Grid implementation with both IBM and non-IBM hardware and software.