IBM continues to expand its support for corporate adoption of grid computing, announcing new grid offerings, additional software partners and an alliance with Cisco Systems to give users access to data across grids.
This week's announcements were part of IBM's effort to create a grid ecosystem to help drive business adoption of distributed computing environments, which traditionally have been used for technical and research applications within the academic and scientific communities.
IBM first announced its focus on building corporate grids in January, when it unveiled offerings aimed at the aerospace, automotive and financial markets, government and life sciences industries. The announcement expands those offerings with grids designed specifically for the agricultural, chemical, electronics, higher education and petroleum markets.
"There is a lot of untapped potential in corporate infrastructure that companies would like to get access to," vice-president of grid computing strategy at IBM, Dan Powers, said. "We're staring to see grid computing spread beyond those industries that we talked about a few months ago."
Grids link computer resources such as PCs, workstations and servers into a single virtual system, enabling business to get the most out of available resources. Increasingly, companies are looking at grids not just as ways to enhance computing power, but also as a means of getting a better handle on data they may have spread across multiple systems.
For example, Japan's second largest electric utility, Kansai Electric Power, is working with IBM to develop an information-based grid that will give users access to an integrated view of data spread across departments and affiliated companies.
"A lot of previous grids were based around harnessing computing power," Clabby Analytics, Joe Clabby, said. "This is one of the better examples of actually using a grid to find, manage and make sense of disparate types information. We're starting to see [grid computing] move more into commercial markets to drive things such as business intelligence."
As a result, IBM is expanding an existing relationship with Cisco to give users on-demand access to all the information resources they need.
"What Cisco is doing is it's providing the switch that you need to connect those thousands or hundreds of nodes (within a grid)," Clabby said. "It's also providing some management software to help you manage your distributed resources."
Cisco is one of 35 partners participating in IBM's grid effort. The grid offerings incorporate the Open Grid Services Architecture, a set of open standards that will enable the grids to operate in heterogeneous environments.