The services are designed to let corporations or research labs better harness servers, employees and other information technology resources for big tasks. Wall Street companies, for instance, run elaborate financial simulations to gauge the impact of certain investment patterns or economic changes. These simulations can take several hours, if confined to a few servers. By putting these applications on a grid that harvests idle processor cycles and memory across a corporation, the simulation can be completed in a few minutes.
"There are a lot of underutilized resources they can tap into," said Dan Powers, vice president of grid strategy and business development at IBM. ?People have got applications that in many cases they want to run in more locations or quicker."
Printing giant Bowne & Co., an early IBM pilot customer, said it has seen a 50 percent improvement in performance by putting its Statements application, which churns out financial reports, on a grid.
and autonomic computing are two major thrusts for IBM and in some ways are inextricably linked.
Grid computing links disparate hardware and software resources, often in geographically distant offices, into a cohesive whole.
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With autonomic tools such as IBM, a new server can be allocated to a project automatically. Autonomic technologies can also warn of hard-drive failures and other hardware problems.
Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and others are also participating in this market. IBM, though, says it has a heft that can be tough to compete against. Approximately 2,000 IBM employees, from both IBM Global Services and IBM?s various research groups, are participating in creating these services.
These services include IBM Grid Value at Work. This service, which emerged from IBM Research, analyzes the costs and financial impact of moving to grid computing. It estimates the resources required and runs different scenarios to estimate what a grid project might look like and cost three to four years down the line.
Another approach is Grid Solution Deployment Services, in which consultants develop an integration plan and deploy grid and autonomic technologies.
While companies that hire IBM to develop grids will invariably buy new software or hardware, these deals largely revolve around services. Powers declined to state the size of these deals. In general, a service deal can run well into the six-figure range, but profits can be squeezed by the cost of consultants.
Currently, IBM?s Global Services division is one of the fastest-growing groups in the company, but itsthan any other group, including hardware and financing.
Grid computing, Powers added, is growing in popularity. IBM has on average about 100 grid projects at any given time, he said.