RealTime IT News

Grid Computing That Heals Itself

IBM today introduced a version of its autonomic software for grid computing environments.

Batch-on-Grid adapts to the ebb and flow of computing workloads, applying server resources from the grid pool on the fly.

The tool also corrects glitches or failures itself so IT administrators don't have to baby-sit the computer and solve its problems.

This allows companies' computers to run during network failures, natural disasters, or even while applications are being upgraded, said Mark Morneault, senior marketing manager for Tivoli and workload management at IBM.

Such software can save a lot of time for admins running grid computing systems, where dozens or hundreds of machines can be laser-focused on solving the same computing challenge.

The software can also work in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) , where applications from several different vendors and code bases are required to communicate complete business tasks.

Batch-on-Grid is a combination of IBM's autonomic computing and classic batch processing , a technology that dates back some 50 years and is still used in traditional finance and government organizations.

In batch processing, various computing jobs are submitted to queues and then scheduled for processing.

Batch-on-Grid creates batch workloads within grid systems, and then uses autonomic software to schedule and maintain those workloads.

The software increases resources when needed during peak traffic times and reduces the computing power when not.

For example, a company can limit a server to 95 percent capacity. When the machine approaches that threshold, the software will shift the workload to another server.

The software also allows IT departments to forecast workloads for important projects.

For example, Batch-on-Grid can help a large bank that wants to roll out a new online banking application across a grid can estimate the IT resources and capacity needed to support a customer service application.

The end goal of Batch-on-Grid is to make sure users are provided with continuous service, Morneault said.

IBM has already deployed the software in some customer data centers, but Morneault would not say which of IBM's 6,000 customers currently doing batch processing are using Batch-on-Grid.

He added that the $2,950 per-processor package is popular among financial services and insurance firms.

Batch-on-Grid consists of three IBM Tivoli products working in concert.

They are: IBM Tivoli Workload Scheduler 8.3, which manages batch workloads in mainframe and distributed environments; IBM Tivoli Workload Scheduler Load Leveler, which allows customers to boost workload performance on AIX and Linux systems; and IBM Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator, which delivers computing capacity when needed.

There are no concrete metrics to qualify leaders in the grid computing market because researchers tend to lump grid into overall computing arrangements. However, IBM is considered a leader in the market, which is worth millions of dollars worldwide.

IBM competes with Sun Microsystems, HP and a handful of smaller startups in the market for grid computing. Sun may be the most high-profile grid player, marketing its Grid Compute Utility.

This service was nailed by a denial-of-service attack when it went live in March.