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IBM embraces grid converts

On the eve of a grid-computing conference, Big Blue says five companies and the EPA have plans to build grids.

IBM has signed on five corporate customers and the Environmental Protection Agency to its ongoing grid computing initiative, Big Blue said Friday.

The customers' projects are still in the early stages and don't yet represent substantial dollar amounts, according to IBM. But they indicate a growing adoption of grid computing designs among corporations looking to make more efficient use of their hardware.

The idea of grid computing is to harness the processing power of several computers by distributing the workload over a network of machines. Grids have been used for years in academia and research-related fields, but grid formations are also effective in commonplace commercial applications, such as data analytics and design and engineering, said Ken King, vice president of grid computing at IBM.

IBM disclosed the five commercial clients and the EPA project before the Global Grid Forum set for next week in Brussels, Belgium. The theme of the conference is "Grid Deployed in the Enterprise."

The EPA has already completed its pilot grid project to share air quality statistics and other data across different EPA locations. The project, part of a contract led by Computer Sciences Corp., uses IBM Linux servers and data integration software from grid software company Avaki.

The five commercial outfits with grid projects under way are Siemens' mobile-communications unit, telecommunications provider NTT; its systems integration arm NS Solutions; Chinese petrochemical supplier Sinopec; and Korean consumer electronics manufacturer Yurion.

IBM is a vocal advocate of commercial grid computing and invests in technology and standards efforts to expand usage. Grid computing ties into IBM's on-demand initiative to make business computing systems more flexible, King said.

IBM earlier this year launched a recruitment program to get commercial software companies to retool their applications to run on a network of computers.