IBM rolls out grids for big business

Not just for academia...
Written by Stephen Shankland, Contributor

Not just for academia...

IBM has expanded its effort to commercialise the formerly academic concept of grids - groups of computers and storage systems linked together to tackle difficult computing tasks. Formerly the domain of academic groups and research bodies - such as the SETI search for extraterrestrial intelligence - IBM has now sold grid systems to three major corporate customers - RBC Insurance, Kansei Electric Power and Royal Dutch Shell - and is offering grid technology packages for four new types of customers. Big Blue also signed on several new software partners as well as Cisco Systems, which will provide switching equipment for grid data storage. RBC Insurance is using a grid with Intel-based servers from IBM and Platform Computing software to improve a program involved with actuarial information - the statistics that determine risks and insurance rates. Kansei's grid integrates information stored across the electric company's different departments. And Royal Dutch Shell is using IBM's Intel-based servers and Globus software to process seismic data for oil and gas searches. IBM initially is trying to sell grids to organisations with a need for supercomputing systems not far removed from the ones found in the academic realm. However, the company believes grids also will be used for general business computing equipment. IBM hopes to profit not only by selling hardware, software and storage systems out of which grids can be built, but also by renting out access to its own grid equipment. IBM's four new packages are tailored for the agricultural-chemical industry, electronic design and engineering, university research, and petrochemical industry research. The packages supplement others IBM released in January for several other grid customer types, including financial services, life sciences, governments, and automotive and aerospace design.
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