IBM has signalled its drive into business grid usage by making Linux-based grid computing software available on its zSeries mainframes.
The company will offer the open source Globus Toolkit on its eServer zSeries mainframes running UnitedLinux-based SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 as virtual server partitions.
The move is part of Big Blue's vision for on-demand computing.
"Grid is a prerequisite to true on-demand computing," IBM system consultant Doug Neilson told vnunet.com.
"One of the tenets is to respond rapidly and flexibly to requirements. So grid is one of the enabling technologies."
The software provides a set of grid programming interfaces, complementing mainframes that were particularly suited to business computing requirements such as high security and non-stop availability, Neilson explained.
"This is the take-off point for business grid. It started in academia for numerically intensive applications. Now it is moving out into mainstream business," he said.
Grid can enable heterogeneous system clusters to be created, but it is too early to provide live examples of business applications, Neilson added.
Rob Hailstone, software infrastructure research director at analyst IDC, cautioned: "Grid is in early-adopter phase at present, and I would expect it to be deployed mostly on a large number of commodity servers."
Grid's availability on the mainframe is more likely to provide a comfort factor for prospective grid users than be big in its own right, he added.
"I am quite sure grid will become mainstream in one form or another because there are enough big companies pushing it."
Grid has to be open, hence Linux-based, and entirely standards-based to be viable, said Neilson. Work is progressing to make the grid interface software implementable as a set of web services.
The University of Warwick took delivery of an IBM zSeries mainframe two years ago and has been carrying out grid application testing.
The ability of zSeries to assign lots of virtual Linux servers means the university can build and test grids with having to go outside to set up a grid infrastructure, Neilson explained.
Separately, grid middleware supplier DataSynapse has released LiveCluster 3G for Linux, while business grid specialist Platform Computing has released its LSF, JobScheduler and MultiCluster software for zSeries.
DataSynapse LiveCluster 3G lets zSeries servers behave as application servers delivering load balancing, high availability and resource efficiency.
Platform's LSF gives on-demand access to a company's entire global computing resources, balancing workloads between systems.
JobScheduler integrates and automates batch running of grid applications and MultiCluster creates a single load-balanced computing environment from available computers.
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