November 9, 2001 12:40 PM PST

Deal boosts open-source supercomputing

Platform Computing, a company that tries to harness the collective computing power on computer networks, has signed a deal to commercialize an open-source supercomputing project.

Platform is working with the Globus Project to commercialize the Globus Toolkit for governing the use of computers and storage systems joined into a large computing "grid," Platform said Wednesday.

Grid computing is a relative of distributed computing, the best known example of which is the SETI@home screen-saver program that searches radio signals for extraterrestrial communications. Grid computing, though, often uses higher-powered computers than mere desktop PCs, and has attracted the interest of IBM, which thinks corporate customers as well as academics will use grid methods. IBM is working with Globus to boost this expansion.

Grid computing has long held potential for some types of computing tasks--typically those that don't require as much communication between one computing task and another. For this reason, they don't replace single mammoth supercomputers such as those from Cray. However, grid computing is popular among pharmaceutical companies and others.

Globus' tools enable grids to be set up that span the computing resources of different companies and organizations. The Globus standards ensure that information and resources are compartmentalized or shared as necessary.

Platform will provide commercial support for the Globus tools, providing help with installation, debugging and training, the company said. It's an expansion of the services the company already offers for its existing proprietary product.

Platform had $46 million in revenue for its fiscal year ended July 31 and has been profitable for nine years, the company said. The Toronto, Canada, company's customers include General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Honda, Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Celera Genomics, Monsanto, GlaxoSmithKline, NASA, the Defense Department, Deutsche Bank, Prudential and Shell Oil.

The company named a new chief executive officer in October, Robert Gordon, previously Oracle's senior vice president of operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He replaced founder Songnian Zhou, who remains the company's chairman and took on the title of chief technology officer.

 

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