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IBM and Harvard develop Crimson Grid

Harvard University and IBM are developing a universitywide computing grid for student and faculty research, data sharing and...

Harvard University and IBM are developing a universitywide computing grid for student and faculty research, data sharing and collaboration in life sciences, engineering and applied sciences.

The "Crimson Grid" will be based on Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) and is expected to become available to other universities in Massachusetts, said Robert Eades, IBM's worldwide executive for academic, government and health in the company's life sciences division. The grid also will be part of a biotechnology grid.

Harvard and IBM will develop and pre-test tools and protocols for the grid. Harvard is receiving an IBM Shared University Research award as part of the initiative and will receive e-Server systems for a blade centre that will power the grid. Harvard's Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences' IT group, along with IBM computer scientists, will implement and build the Grid Reference System Implementation, which is the grid's core development environment. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard University Information Systems will provide the network backbone service.

The reference implementation can then be shared with other universities, agencies or groups interested in developing a grid, but that perhaps lack the time or expertise to develop such a computing system, Eades said.

"The really key benefit is going to be having an easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy grid reference implementation," he added.

The Crimson Grid is expected to enable collaborative research by faculty and students across disciplines, as well as data sharing. The grid has the potential to offer tools "to solve any type problem from a complex literature search to mining the genome", said Jayanta Sircar, chief information officer and IT director at Harvard's Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

"Crimson" is the nickname of Harvard athletic teams, the name of the school newspaper and the colour most associated with the university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Nancy Weil writes for IDG News Service

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