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Manugistics unleashes supply-chain Swarm

Manugistics Group aims to bolster supply-chain processes with planning software that can crunch massive amounts of data.

Swarm, which was unveiled at the company's enVISION conference lastweek, will allow companies to track products down to the item level and location without overwhelming existing hardware systems, despite the enormous amount of data that will be generated.

Previously, item-level tracking stopped at the distribution centre because the combination of item plus location produced so much data that it was difficult to process, said Julie Stern, vice president of technology strategy at Manugistics.

"If you want to do store-level item, location-tracking that number goes up to 20 million - or even 40 million - numbers, and it still needs to be processed on a daily basis," Stern said, adding that Swarm can crunch an unlimited amount of numbers.

Swarm breaks the problem into as many finite threads as it can and then deploys each thread on an available node, which can be either a single CPU or a cluster of CPUs, a single server, or many servers.

The technology uses a grid-based hardware architecture and can run on Hewlett-Packard Unix, Windows, and IBM 6000s.

"It is a masterless process," Stern said. "Every node knows what every node is doing, so it is fault-tolerant. If one fails, the other picks up the scheduling."

One analyst said Swarm is a fundamental change in planning algorithms.

"This technology allows companies to do store-level forecasting without spending a ton of money on IT hardware," said Mike Dominy, a senior analyst at The Yankee Group.

Ephraim Schwartz writes for InfoWorld


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