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.

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