IBM Expands Grid Offerings, Announces Customer Wins

IBM Wednesday announced several Grid customers and projects, along with two new offerings for the financial services industry.

To date, IBM boasts more than 100 Grid customers and 19 industry-specific Grid solutions, said Dan Powers, IBM’s vice president of Grid computing strategy.

“This continues a trend over the last year of rapid acceptance of Grid computing,” Powers said. “It’s growing extremely fast.”

Big Blue said Grid computing has emerged as a viable alternative for running demanding and sophisticated applications in commercial enterprises.

Global outsourcing and HR consulting firm Hewitt Associates, for example, is using a Grid, Linux and WebSphere-based solution for its pension modeling application. The solution, which features IBM eServer zSeries mainframe and BladeCenter technologies working with DataSynapse’s GridServer software, has reduced Hewitt’s transaction costs by about 90% without rewriting the firm’s applications.

The NLI Research Institute, a subsidiary of the Nippon Life Insurance Group, recently began a joint research project with IBM’s Tokyo Research Laboratory using Grid technology to reduce processing time for the company’s Monte Carlo financial risk management simulations. Early results have reduced processing time from 10 hours to 49 minutes, IBM said.

Morgan Stanley has been working with IBM to migrate analytical applications to run across a Grid of Intel processor servers, resulting in a marked reduction of processing time.

IBM also has Grid computing projects underway at Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic; at Germany’s T-Systems, a unit of Deutsche Telecom; and at IN2P3, the Institut National de Physique Nucleaire et de Physique des Particules, where IBM and IN2P3 are deploying Grid Services using the Globus Toolkit 3. IN2P3 and IBM also are using Grid technology to support Life Sciences Research and to manage peak requests for data on the IN2P3 system.

IBM Partners With SAS, Avaki, United Devices

IBM also joined with business intelligence software provider SAS and others to create new Grid-based product offerings for the banking and financial markets industry. Big Blue also announced Master Relationship Agreements with Grid middleware providers Avaki and United Devices, joining DataSynapse and Platform Computing in that status.

IBM and SAS introduced a new Grid offering for Customer Analytics in the banking industry, utilizing the SAS Credit Scoring application as part of the SAS Banking Intelligence solution to show that applications can be readily Grid-enabled. SAS was able to “plug and play” into the Grid environment without customized programming.

The offering accelerates customer insight applications, reduces cycle time for executing statistical models, and provides more sophisticated analysis and increased accuracy of customer acquisition and retention, IBM said.

In partnership with DataSynapse, IBM developed a Risk Management and Compliance offering for capital markets and retail banking designed to help risk managers implement a Grid infrastructure to support real-time credit limit monitoring. Currently, many of these applications are run overnight, IBM said. The offering can also form the foundation for a credit risk application infrastructure that complies with Basel II, and can help financial firms comply more efficiently with the Patriot Act, Sarbanes-Oxley and NYSE Rule 92, IBM said. The solution runs on a company’s existing infrastructure.

Big Blue Backs Grid Forum, Questions Oracle

Powers said the announcements are the result of IBM’s broad approach to Grid computing that began two years ago.

The technology has made strong gains in research and development, engineering and design, business analytics, government development and enterprise optimization, and is beginning to catch on in the telecom and digital media sectors, he said.

“It’s something we have been building this business around for two years,” Powers said. “It’s given us a tremendous jump over competitors who are just waking up to Grid.”

One such implied competitor is Oracle, which recently announced its own Grid offering.

“Like many things, Oracle is focused on what Grid means to Oracle,” said Powers, who said IBM’s approach is based on open standards compared to Oracle’s “Oracle-focused” approach.

Powers said IBM remains committed to the Global Grid Forum for commercial Grid standards, questioning Oracle’s recent call for a separate commercial Grid forum.

“We believe the GGF has been a very effective forum to date,” Powers said. “I don’t know why we need to spend time and money to start a new group when we already have a strong group in place.”

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