IBM's attempt to commercialise grid technology has resulted in new vertical grid applications and joint developments with other companies, including Shell and Cisco.
The work with Shell is to build a reusable toolkit that acts as a grid 'wrapper' for existing applications, while the Cisco development will enable enhanced grid services for storage area networks.
New, mostly Linux-based, applications for the petroleum, electronics, higher education and agricultural chemicals market sectors have also been announced.
Michel Teyssegre, vice president of strategic business development at IBM, told vnunet.com: "Grid technology is part of IBM's on-demand strategy, so it is a big play.
"It is the third generation of the internet. Like the internet, it is open and will succeed when it goes to commercial business."
Teyssegre explained that the second-generation internet involved a connection to any computer, while grid meant working together with a network of computers worldwide.
Royal Dutch Shell will use the grid wrapper software to provide itself with computing capacity on-demand for seismic interpretation applications.
"Grid computing is important to Shell because it offers the potential to create a truly unlimited resource with a uniform interface to a variety of services," said Jacob Buur, principal research physicist at Shell International and Production BV.
He added that it provided a significant opportunity for Shell to co-operate more closely with its independent companies. The Shell solution is based on IBM eServer xSeries hardware running the Globus grid toolkit.
Earlier this year IBM began reselling Cisco MDS 9000 storage area network switches.
Cisco is now working to enhance the switches with intelligent multi-layer storage networking architecture, laying a foundation to allow globally scalable access to grid data.
The built-in intelligence will be used to simplify data access and for resource sharing and management.
In January, IBM announced its 2003 grid go-to-market strategy with five focus market sectors. There are new releases for four of these:
- Agricultural/chemical - analytics acceleration grid and information access grid.
- Electronics - engineering design grid and design collaboration grid.
- Higher education - university collaboration grid.
- Petroleum - geophysical processing and analysis grid and IT optimisation grid.
The applications all conform to the open grid services architecture (OGSA) standard and work in heterogeneous environments.
Among other companies developing grid applications, some in conjunction with IBM, are: Cadence (engineering and design automation); Calypso Technology (financial analytics); Landmark Graphics (gas and oil); and Mercury Interactive (cross-sector software quality and optimisation).
Teyssegre confirmed that the OGSA would be made generally available in June, while grid technology would be included in WebSphere middleware later this year.
IBM has also announced the formation of the first grid 'ecosystem' in conjunction with the developers and some 20 resellers, totalling 35 companies in all.
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