Commercial Grid Demonstrated By IBM And T-Systems
Tuesday September 16 2003 @ 07:50AM EDT

IBM Research, the Lab in Böblingen and T-Systems signed a partnership to jointly develop basic technologies for e-business on demand and to gain more flexibility in IT and telecommunication infrastructures and their applications. In the T-Systems' high-security computer center in Frankfurt-Heddernheim, Germany, both partners demonstrated first results. They used an IBM eServer BladeCenter with a Grid middleware to automatically add and replace blades, to react immediately in cases of disaster and recover the situation. The operating system was Linux, the management blades ran a combination of Tivoli and Globus.

IBM Research Lab and T-Systems agreed in an innovation partnership, IBM came from the on demand computing, T-Systems saw the virtual computer center and managed business flexibility. The virtual center improves the flexibility and reduces costs and complexity. It contains logical objects as archive, data, communication and archive with services on top of it. In the middle resides the resource manager and all is running a Data Center Operating System, an operating system on top of the different operating systems.

They started with a workshop on using Grid technologies in legacy environments. Actually, the show case demonstrates the basic principles of the Grid vision. The nest steps are directed to a commercial applicability. The first result of this cooperation is a practicability study. It showed how computers at different locations independently work together -- like a virtual computer center -- and thus realize Grid computing in a commercial environment.

In contrary to the scientific Grid computing, computer power is not the main issue. In the commercial world, topics like take precedence:

- efficient use of available resources
- optimal and automatic managing the computer center
- managing service level agreements (SLAs) and the quality of service (QoS)
- recover data in case of disaster
- improvement of the continuity of the businesses.

The new flexibility of computer power and the improved availability allows new offerings for the customers. With the demonstrator IBM and T-Systems showed, how the concepts of Grid computing can change the IT world.

The demonstration took place at T-Systems in Frankfurt-Heddernheim. The base was an IBM eServer BladeCenter with two management blades. They ran a combination of Tivoli Automation and the Globus Grid software. The partners improved this software layer -- the e-Utility or Grid-Layer. The two blades worked as a file serve too. Two compute blades waited for tasks, an other blade was inserted and ready but not in operation. The fourth blade lay on the table.

The partners started three applications, which demonstrated the broad range and applicability. The clock served as a stateless application. It was not allowed to run on the same blade as the Web shop. Then they started the transactional application, the Web shop. It automatically choose the second blade. A compute-intensive state-full application ran on both blades and computed and displayed fractals.

The Grid software, developed by IBM and T-Systems, automatically manages the computing resources, allows adding and removing of them, supervises the dynamic distribution of the compute load, controls the SLAs and QoS and offers new methods for disaster recovery.

When rising the fractal computation, the higher load reduced the part of the Web shop. This violated the defined SLAs and QoS -- the predefined rules. The Grid-Layer immediately recognized the situation and added -- on demand -- the third blade as an additional resource. As it was not in an operational state, it was configured, operating system and the application was installed automatically. The capacity was added within three minutes. Now the requirements -- the rules -- of the Web shop have been fulfilled.

They removed the active blade with the Web shop. This simulated a severe crash. The Grid-Layer immediately copied the applications on the other two blades. Although the performance system was reduced, the applications are still running. The customer of the Web shop did not notice the crash. All the transferred data are kept. This opens new possibilities in the case of a disaster. Additionally, software automatically recognizes the insertion of a blade too and starts it without an interrupt.

Now, the partners will commercialize the Grid-Layer. Next steps are directed into the managing of heterogeneous computer systems to integrate legacy systems too. Other issues are the accounting of the computer resources and the security.

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