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IBM snares new contracts for Europe-based Internet Grids
Thursday, August 2, 2001

Agence France-Presse
(Copyright 2001)

ARMONK, New York, Aug 2 (AFP) – IBM announced Thursday it had snared contracts to supply equipment to build Europe-based computer networks that link together the power of individual computers.
The linked systems, known as “Grid” networks, will allow researchers to combine the power of individual computers to conduct data intensive research, such as human gene and protein studies.
The emerging networks will be based in Edinburgh/Glasgow with other centers throughout Britain and the Netherlands.
The systems will be based on “Globus” and Linux software that uses the Internet as an underlying communication system to manage and distribute data and computing power between individual computers.
IBM is building the massive data storage devices that will hold the information needed by these linked computers, the company said.
John Patrick, IBM’s vice president of Internet Technology, said Grid systems will rival the World Wide Web — another open source technology that uses the Internet as a communications infrastructure – – in their impact.
“Grids will have a very profound effect on the world,” said Patrick. “They have the potential to help us create cures for diseases, or engineer and design great products much more quickly.”
“Things that had taken years for computers to do can now take hours to achieve,” said Patrick. Grids already exist, mainly in government research centers such as NASA, where things like rocket engine simulations are shared by scientists in laboratories scattered across the country.
“This really does have incredible promise,” said Tony Hey, who is overseeing the building of the National Grid in Britain. “Grids can be the realization of a true worldwide computer network.”
The World Wide Web allows users to view data on other computers, but running remote applications using software housed on other computers has proven to be difficult. The different kinds of computers using different software formats make that feat nearly impossible on any sophisticated level.
“You need experts to do that correctly on the current Web,” said Hey.
Grids, on the other hand, allow computers to act in concert by enabling them to use standard protocols to manipulate data. “The promise is there,” said Hey.