Batching Tips to Manage Your Grid

Got grid software efficiency problems? IBM is offering relief.

Big Blue unveiled Tivoli Workload and Capacity Management today. It’s a
self-managing autonomic software tool that automatically allocates server
resources based on the ebb and flow of computing demand.

The latest management tool from IBM’s Tivoli unit, one part of the company’s on-demand computing strategy, allows servers to run during outages. The outages may be planned, as in the case of application updates across the grid, or unplanned, such as a natural disaster or computer failure.

Software packages from rival vendors like HP , Computer Associates or Sun Microsystems also react in real-time. But IBM’s new application has a twist: It lets computers shift workloads to make sure the most important computer processes or transactions are seen to first.

For instance, a customer can limit a server to 95 percent capacity. When a
server approaches that threshold, the software will shift the workload to
another server, said Michael Morneault, global market manager for workload
management at IBM.

Morneault said the software also helps customers forecast workloads for
high-priority projects, helping companies plan how they want to distribute
their resources. Normally, such tasks are done manually by IT staffs and may
take days, weeks, or even months to complete.

The new tool is optimized to run grids based on IBM technology, but
Morneault said customers who use competing products such as Sun’s Sun Grid
technology may also use Tivoli.

Tivoli Workload and Capacity Management is a combination of two existing
Tivoli tools, Workload Scheduler and Intelligent Orchestrator. Scheduler
provides the console for automating the monitoring and management of
workloads in mainframe and distributed environments; Orchestrator adds the
self-managing autonomic technology to deliver capacity as needed.

The new solution, which starts at $2,900, is not a new concept. It takes
tips from a traditional programming technique, called batch computing.
Batching, which originated in the 1950s and is still used today, calls for
computing jobs to be submitted to queues and scheduled for processing.

Like the batching applications, the new Tivoli tool schedules and balances
batch workloads in computing grids.

Moreover, the software has roots in IBM’s research division. Called Project
Oceano in 1999, the concept was to allow companies to host multiple
customers on a grid, assigning computers based on their capacity needs.

When a customer’s workload increased, Oceano would automatically detect the
change and dispatch additional computers to compensate for the increased
workload. If the workload decreased, Oceano would switch the computers off.

Oceano functioned as an early version of IBM’s autonomic computing
philosophy, in which software is used to help hardware systems self-monitor
and self-manage.

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