IBM inks grid computing deals

Big Blue, one of the loudest advocates of pooling computing resources with grid technology, secures a half-dozen new customers.

Alorie Gilbert
Alorie Gilbert Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Alorie Gilbert
writes about software, spy chips and the high-tech workplace.
3 min read
IBM, one of the loudest advocates of pooling computing resources with grid technology, has secured a half-dozen new customers.

Big Blue announced Wednesday that the new customers will join IBM's stable of about 100 companies that have bought grid computing products and services. The new clients include Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley and business consulting firm Hewitt Associates.


What's new:
Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley and business consulting firm Hewitt Associates are among the approximately 100 customers that have purchased grid computing products and services from IBM.

Bottom line:
Following a string of grid computing announcements in recent weeks by Sun and Oracle, IBM is eager to reclaim the spotlight. Big Blue expects to revenue from the sale of such products to reach "multiple millions" of dollars this year.

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Grid computing involves pooling the computing power of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of servers over a network to run programs more reliably and reduce the cost of maintaining data centers. IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and a handful of others are touting their grid computing prowess.

Oracle recently joined the fracas, announcing plans to release a version of its database software designed for grid computing by year's end. At the time, Oracle executives argued that IBM's approach to grid computing required expensive consulting services from IBM Global Services. Oracle promised to offer a more out-of-the-box grid computing experience. IBM executives countered that Oracle's grid computing effort was little more than a repackaging of its "clustering" technology.

With all the trash-talking, IBM appears eager to remind everyone that the company's still in the game.

"While our competitors--Oracle, HP and Sun---are playing catch-up, making promises of grid strategies to come, IBM has more than 100 live, in-production grid projects around the world and has introduced some 19 industry-specific grid products in just the past year," an IBM representative said in an e-mail.

IBM expects its grid computing push to bring in "multiple millions" of dollars in revenue this year from the sale of hardware, software and services, said Tom Hawk, IBM's general manager of grid computing. Its grid computing business should double next year, he said. Hawk declined to provide more specific revenue figures, nor would he disclose the revenue IBM is making on its recent grid computing contracts with Morgan Stanley and Hewitt.

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The other new customers joining IBM's grid computing fold are NLI Research Institute, a unit of the Nippon Life Insurance Group in Japan; Ngee Ann Polytechnic, a college in Singapore; T-Systems, a unit of Germany?s Deutsche Telekom; and IN2P3, a French research consortium on nuclear physics.

IBM also said it has released two new grid computing packages, both aimed at the financial services industry. One incorporates data analysis software from SAS Institute and is designed to help banks assess credit risk more efficiently. The other involves software from a company called DataSynapse and is geared toward credit limit monitoring. IBM would not disclose prices for either set of products.

IBM has also inked partnerships with two smaller grid computing software makers, Avaki in Burlington, Mass., and United Devices in Austin, Texas.