Grid = The Glue That Holds It All Together
IBM envisions that when the concepts of scaling up and scaling out are combined, the result will be a simpler, more easily managed infrastructure held together by grid computing technology.
Until recently, grid has been used primarily in the research and scientific communities. IBM sees tremendous opportunity for it in the commercial sector, particularly in financial services and healthcare.
The HR outsourcing firm Hewitt Associates is one enterprise that has combined efforts to scale up and scale out — and then tied them together through grid computing. Hewitt worked with IBM’s Design Center team to create a solution for the company’s pension modeling application that combines eServer zSeries 900 and zSeries 990 servers with BladeCenter and meshes them together using DataSynapse’s Grid Server software.
The new architecture rolled out last week to Hewitt’s customer base. According to Perry Cliburn, Hewitt’s CIO, the amount of time now necessary to compute large calculations is slightly shorter, and transaction costs have been reduced about 90 percent. All without rewriting any of the code in Hewitt’s Smalltalk-based CalcEngine, the guts of the pension application, Cliburn said.
Grid is one component of IBM’s on-demand initiative increasingly being thrust center stage. In the case of Hewitt, Cliburn said grid computing is a key element of the companys redesigned infrastructure. The company needed an architecture that could accommodate an unpredictable demand for its hosted applications. For example, the infrastructure had to be prepared for a scenario in which a large percentage of the 17 million employees it serves decide to calculate their pension options at the same time.
IBM increased its “glue” options this week with the announcement of two new grid offerings for the financial services industry as well involvement with grid endeavors undertaken by Morgan Stanley and NLI Research Institute (a division of Nippon Life Insurance Group).
Grid computing projects are also under way at Singapore’s Ngee Ann
Polytechnic and the Institut National de Physique Nucleaire et de Physique
des Particules (IN2P3).
With these new offerings, IBM and its partners claim 17 grid solutions in nine vertical industries.