IBM's Linux-Only Mainframe Selected by University of Florida for Grid Computing Research at the Advanced Computing and Information Systems Laboratory

Purchase Marks 1,000th Sale of IBM eServer z800 Introduced Last Year

ARMONK, NY & GAINESVILLE, FL - 06 Mar 2003: IBM announced today that the University of Florida has selected the Linux-only IBM eServer zSeries 800 as the heart of the university's Advanced Computing and Information Systems (ACIS) laboratory at the school's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Gainesville, Florida.

The sale of the z800 was made by IBM Business Partner Cornerstone Systems, Inc. The university is the 1,000th customer of IBM's entry-class mainframe, the z800, which began shipping in March of last year. A collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation funded the purchase.

The university plans to integrate the z800 running z/VM, IBM's advanced virtualization software, a 3.36 Terabyte IBM Enterprise Storage Server (code named "Shark") and a 32-node IBM eServer xSeries cluster running VMWare and Linux to support its pioneering research in the emerging field of grid computing. The goal of grid computing is to enable the secure, shared usage of geographically distributed computing resources and services as if they resided on an individual user's computer.

The grid computing research is led by Professors Jose Fortes and Renato Figueiredo of the University of Florida and Professor Peter Dinda of Northwestern University. Fortes, a BellSouth Eminent Scholar, and Figueiredo, have been doing groundbreaking work on grid computing over the past seven years.

The University of Florida's approach to grid computing is unique in that it relies extensively on the use of virtualization technology at the machine, network, data and application levels to dynamically create virtual information grids per user and/or per application. The intended users of this grid computing approach include worldwide communities of scientists and engineers in nanotechnology and computer science. The university describes the middleware developed by the ACIS lab as "In-VIGO," indicating that it enables scientific simulations and design to take place In Virtual Information Grid Organizations.

According to Professor Fortes, "The IBM eServer z800 will be a central component of the ACIS lab computing environment, carrying out grid computing software research and development, and simulating different grid computing environments. The z800 makes use of highly efficient z/VM virtualization capabilities and supports Linux-based environments and applications -- this played a determining role in our decision to deploy IBM technology and seek NSF funding to acquire the machine. We believe that grid resources of the future will be able to provide virtualization capabilities similar to those already available when using the z800."

The university will also rely on the IBM Enterprise Storage Server to house large amounts of information that will be accessed from the IBM servers during its grid simulation work.

"The superior virtualization capabilities available on the IBM eServer z800, which allow the mainframe to be shared for use by multiple researchers, each with separate and distinct applications on a single piece of hardware, make it uniquely qualified for research in the grid computing arena," said Erich Clementi, general manager, IBM eServer zSeries. "The combination of IBM's powerful storage and server technologies will play a key role in the university's IN-VIGO project."