September 24, 2003

IBM grids its teeth, adds new enterprise products

- by Chris Preimesberger -
IBM today announced a series of grid computing product offerings and a slate of subsequent new projects worldwide. Grid computing is the latest marketing-speak trend in enterprise IT systems. Ostensibly, the advantage is that companies can save money immediately by using existing computers together with inexpensive newer computers in a fail-safe network powered by a high-end central database and application servers.

This opposes conventional thinking that companies have to continually purchase more -- and more powerful -- computers and software every few years, laying to waste previous versions of expensive software and hardware.

Oracle and Microsoft have joined IBM as the highest-profile ââ¬Åleadersââ¬? in this trend.

IBMââ¬â¢s two new product offerings announced today center on the banking and financial markets industry:

  • Customer Insight in Banking: IBM's and SAS's new offering for customer analytics in the banking industry utilizes the SAS Credit Scoring application as part of the SAS Banking Intelligence solution to show that applications can be readily grid-enabled. SAS was able to "plug and play" into the grid environment without customized programming. The offering enhances a bank's competitiveness by accelerating its customer insight applications, reducing its cycle time for executing statistical models, and providing more sophisticated analysis and increased accuracy of customer acquisition and retention.

Risk Management and Compliance -- Capital Markets and Retail Banking: This new product, developed in conjunction with DataSynapse, is designed to help risk managers implement a grid infrastructure to support real-time credit-limit monitoring. Currently, many of these applications take eight to 24 hours to complete transactions. Because a company's existing infrastructure does not need to be replaced, IBM says firms can leverage their existing capital investments while moving to a higher-performance, lower cost, standards-based solution.

Among the projects announced today by IBM:

  • Morgan Stanley: IBM has been working with Morgan Stanley to migrate analytical applications to run across a grid of Intel processor servers resulting in a marked reduction of processing time.

Hewitt Associates: IBM worked with Hewitt Associates, the global outsourcing and HR consulting firm, to build a grid, Linux, and WebSphere-based solution for the company's pension modeling application. The solution features IBM eServer zSeries mainframe and BladeCenter technologies working in tandem with DataSynapse's GridServer software. On the grid, Hewitt reduced its transaction costs by some 90 percent, without rewriting its applications.

NLI Research Institute: The NLI Research Institute, a company of the Nippon Life Insurance Group, recently began a joint research project with IBM's Tokyo Research Laboratory to reduce processing time for the company's financial risk management solution using Monte Carlo simulation through the use of grid technology. Early results have reduced processing time from 10 hours to 49 minutes, IBM said.

Separately, IBM announced master relationship agreements with middleware providers Avaki and United Devices. Avaki, of Burlington, Mass., is a provider of enterprise information integration software based on grid technology. United Devices of Austin, Texas, provides secure grid solutions for businesses of all sizes. IBM and its partners offer 17 grid solutions in nine vertical industries.

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