IBM to Acquire Platform Computing

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Today IBM announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Platform Computing, a Canadian vendor of cluster and grid management software for distributed computing environments. While financial terms were not disclosed, the acquisition is anticipated to close in the fourth quarter of 2011.

IBM considers the acquisition of Platform Computing to be a strategic element for the transformation of HPC into the high growth segment of technical computing and an important part of our smarter computing strategy,” said Helene Armitage, general manager, IBM Systems Software. “This acquisition can be leveraged across IBM as we enhance our IBM offerings and solutions, providing clients with technology that helps draw insights to fuel critical business decisions or breakthrough science.”

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  1. Bad news for the current LSF customers. We all know how well IBM takes care of its customers 😛
    Another ‘neutral vendor’ software is about to become IBM friendly only.. It was Grid Engine last year and now LSF. Unless you are running IBM or Oracle hardware, you are only left with PBS Pro and Moab as a choice.

  2. Do you know, Ray? Look at GPFS, Tivoli LoadLeveler, xCat … you can buy (or download for xCat) them for whatever system you like as long as there’s an x86 CPU …

  3. Martin, you’re on track. Ray….you’re being far too harsh. I admit that I worked in IBM’s HPC business at a fairly high level for years, but no longer. We took GREAT pride in how we cared for our customers, thank you very much. IBM didn’t get, and remain, as big as it is by abusing customers….despite folklore. This is a great move for IBM, Platform, and their mutual customers.

  4. The planned purchase of Platform Computing by Big Blue raises a few questions on how IBM will continue to operate in the HPC and cloud market. On the one hand IBM has invested heavily in xCAT, the cluster management system, which powers some of the largest supercomputers in the World such as RoadRunner, to name one. However, its planned acquisition of Platform Computing (which has also spent a lot of time in the last year to improve its product) throws that investment into question.

    Through Platform Computing, IBM will now have a cluster manager, a full-fledged scheduling system (using Platform Computing’s Load Scheduling Facility), and a front facing portal with monitoring and statistics. This acquisition also provides IBM with an MPI suite (Platform MPI) which is used with many applications across commercial and research facilities.

    The past investment in xCAT and new investment in Platform Computing begs the question: how is IBM going to combine these two investments? Will IBM just use Platform Computing’s cluster manager as it is? Will it remove the cluster manager and replace it with xCAT?

    In terms of schedulers /resource managers i.e. IBM’s LoadLeveler versus Platform Computing’s LSF, which one will IBM ship? Will it be bringing both together, and use the best bits of both? My personal guess is that IBM will make LSF compatible with Loadleveler, and xCAT, and maybe give customers the choice.

  5. As the maintainer of the official open source version of Grid Engine (we changed the project name to Open Grid Scheduler, BTW), I don’t agree with Ray (above) that the only vendor neutral option is “PBS Pro and Moab as a choice”.

    IBM has a track record of offering solutions on non-IBM platforms, a few good examples are DB2, Websphere, Tivoli, Rational, Cognos & SPSS. With Grid Engine, Oracle does not restrict the supported hardware platform (of course there are OSes that are not officially supported by Grid Engine). So please stop the FUD.

  6. Kenneth Bull says

    I wonder what will happen to the quality of Platform’s products under IBM. I know their flagship LSF product had a reputation of not crashing or needing much admin intervention for several months.