IBM offers processing on demand

Need a supercomputer in a pinch? IBM Corp. might be able to help.

Earlier this month, the company introduced a service called e-business on demand in which customers can buy chunks of supercomputer processing power on an IBM-owned-and-operated system. The price for the service is determined by the capacity required and length of use.

"This is a good option when projects are of a fixed duration and when capacity requirements are reasonably well known, which is characteristic of many applications in the life sciences and in government," said David Jursik, worldwide vice president of Linux cluster sales with IBM. "The intent is to provide short-term assets that customers can heavily use, as opposed to the underutilization that often occurs when customers own their own supercomputer."

The service, which is hosted from an IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is available using either IBM's Unix-based eServer p655 systems or Linux-based eServer x335 and x345 systems. Jursik said IBM would accommodate customer requirements as they relate to loading data, accessing it and defining security provisions for the job.

For example, IBM's first customer for the new service, a petroleum research company, shipped its data to the IBM facility on tape, though Jursik said IBM can support data transmissions using a virtual private network if the customer prefers.

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