IBM on Monday added to its long list of Canadian software acquisitions with the purchase of Platform Computing, a company whose ability to manage "grids" of computing workloads will help Big Blue make gains in the cloud computing market.
Based in Toronto, Platform employs approximately 500 employees and first gained attention in the late 1990s with its Load Sharing Facility (LSF), which allowed IT departments to set business policies so they could effectively put resources into the hands of the people who need them most. This focus on load balancing gave Platform an early advantage in what became known as grid computing, where enterprises focused on distributing computing resources transparently among a large number of users, in effect turning a server cluster or a computer farm into what appears from the user's desktop to be a single supercomputer or mainframe.
Much like virtualization software, grid computing and load balancing is becoming a critical part of cloud computing, especially as third-party public cloud providers want to ensure the optimum level of service to customers.
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Platform and IBM have worked together for many years. Five years ago, Platform was among the firms chosen for Big Blue's "Grid and Grow" program, which ensured products interoperated with IBM's suite. In some areas, however, they were competitors. For example, IBM earlier this year launched its HPC Management Suite for Cloud, whereas Platform Computing began offering tools to let its customers build private clouds out of multiple clusters since 1999.
In January, Platform Computing released version 2.1 of Platform ISF with a focus on providing IT admins an easy-to-use tool for cloud resource management, or as one executive described it, a "single cloud pane." Platform ISF combines the company's resource sharing technology, EGO, with its Virtual Machine Orchestrator (VMO) into a product that integrates with heterogeneous distributed IT resources in data centres.
Big Blue said Platform Computing will become part of its Systems and Technology Group, which includes System x, BladeCenter, Power Systems and System Storage, among other products. IBM said Platform Computing's 2000 clients include 23 of the top 30 largest global enterprises such as CERN, Citigroup, Infineon, Pratt & Whitney, Red Bull Racing, Sanger Institute, Statoil and University of Tokyo.
"IBM considers the acquisition of Platform Computing to be a strategic element for the transformation of HPC into the high growth segment of technical computing and an important part of our smarter computing strategy," said Helene Armitage, general manager, IBM Systems Software in a prepared statement. "This acquisition can be leveraged across IBM as we enhance our IBM offerings and solutions, providing clients with technology that helps draw insights to fuel critical business decisions or breakthrough science."