IBM Launches Commercial Grid Offerings

IBM launched a broad push into commercial Grid computing Monday with 10 initiatives targeting aerospace, automotive, financial markets, government and life sciences.

Big Blue, which gave Grid computing a big boost with its entry into the space in August 2001, said it hopes its latest initiative will “drive the benefits of Grid computing beyond its academic and research roots and into business enterprises.”

“The benefits of Grid computing for e-business on demand are here; it’s now and it’s real,” said Tom Hawk, IBM’s general manager of Grid computing worldwide. “Working with our partners and the open Globus community, we’ve developed a set of structured capabilities and offerings that leverage IBM’s unmatched experience in deploying IT solutions to help businesses reap the benefits of Grid computing.”

IBM will work closely with two Grid middleware vendors — Platform Computing and DataSynapse — both of which will play “key roles” in helping IBM deploy Grids in the enterprise. IBM also has agreements with middleware providers Avaki, Entropia and United Devices.

For Platform and DataSynapse, the announcement means that IBM will take its partnerships with the two firms to a higher level, offering marketing support and a direct working relationship. “IBM is committed to making Grid a success in these vertical markets and see these partners as a key to achieving that,” said spokesperson John Kerr.

Wachovia, a customer of both IBM and DataSynapse, lauded the expanded partnership between the two.

“As a long-time customer of both IBM and DataSynapse, we are excited about the partnership between the two companies,” said Bridget-Anne Hampden, Wachovia managing director and CIO of Corporate and Investment Banking. “Grid computing has already had a significant impact on our ability to meet our business objectives. The combination of IBM’s infrastructure expertise and DataSynapse’s ability to enable a wide range of applications creates a compelling solution with immediately realizable benefits.”

Five Focus Areas

IBM said its “go-to-market strategy for 2003” is built around five Grid focus areas that address the needs of the aerospace, automotive, financial markets, government and life science industries. These focus areas, based on customer feedback and customer Grid implementations, are Research and Development, Engineering and Design, Business Analytics, Enterprise Optimization, and Government Development. The offerings are:

* Financial Markets (Business Analytics and Enterprise Optimization Focus): For the Financial Services market, IBM is offering two Grid options: an Analytics Acceleration Grid and an IT Optimization Grid. The Analytics Acceleration Grid can enhance a company’s competitiveness and agility in the financial trading market by accelerating its trading analytics operations and increasing its computational throughput. The IT Optimization Grid will help customers exploit available, underutilized compute and storage resources.

* Life Sciences (Research and Development Focus): For the Life Sciences industry, IBM is offering two Grid options: one for Analytics Acceleration and another for Information Accessibility. The Analytics Acceleration Grid is designed to dramatically increase the number of calculations processed, which can result in accelerated times for drug discovery. The Information Accessibility Grid can maximize the exploitation of existing data resources and assets by providing unified data access during the querying process of nonstandard data formats.

* Automotive and Aerospace (Engineering and Design Focus): For the Automotive and Aerospace industries, IBM is offering an Engineering Design Grid as well as a Design Collaboration Grid. The Engineering Design Grid will help companies in these industries manage their costs by optimizing the use of their investment in existing infrastructure. The Design Collaboration Grid will enable data sharing and distributed work flow across partners, which will enable faster design processes.

* Governments (Government Development Focus): For Government agencies, IBM is offering an Information Access Grid that can maximize use of existing data resources and other assets across the enterprise to enable lead identification through data mining and associating diverse data sources and simplifying data access through a unified data and file interface.

In addition to the nine industry-targeted offerings above, IBM’s 10th offering will be Grid Innovation Workshops. Customized for each organization, the workshops are designed to help companies examine how Grid technologies can impact their organization.

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

Platform Computing, a 10-year-old private company that generates more than $50 million a year and boasts more than 1,500 customers worldwide, is currently the only vendor that will engage in all five industries IBM is targeting.

DataSynapse, a New York City-based provider of Grid and distributed computing solutions, will be part of IBM’s go-to-market strategy in industries requiring business analytics Grids, specifically the financial services sector.

IBM also has agreements with three other Grid middleware vendors — Avaki, Entropia and United Devices — and will engage with these vendors in industries where they offer the greatest expertise.