IBM's World Community Grid

To demonstrate the effectiveness of grid computing, IBM created World Community Grid, allowing humanitarian organisations can use this new technology to carry out research.

The challenge | What they did | The impact

IBMThe World Community Grid helped establish grid computing as a widely accepted technology, used by numerous IBM clients.  By using the technology for philanthropic ends, IBM has benefited from significant and sustained media coverage, building trust and reputation.

What was the challenge?

A new computing technology, grid computing, had the potential to open up the ability to carry out very large computing workloads to clients whose other options had previously been out of their reach. 

However, grid computing, which enables the distribution of large computing workloads - traditionally handled by expensive large servers and supercompters - across multiple low-level computers, was not yet accepted as an established technology.  IBM needed to demonstrate its effaicacy to clients in a convincing and credible way. 

At the same time, there was also a clear demand from humanitarian research organisations for low-cost or donated computing power for their work, many of which contacted IBM for support.


What IBM did

IBM combined these two challenges - building an effective use case to convince those responsible for technology investments of the value of grid computing and providing computing support to humanitarian research organisations. 

Its research department created "World Community Grid" - a programme using grid computing technology to undertake very large scale humanitarian research.  World Community Grid explicitly addresses the concerns identified by potential clients related to its adoption as a new technology: cost effectiveness, security, reliability, flexibility, ease of use and scalability. 


The impact

Grid computing is now an established and accepted technology, with IBM as the market leader.

World Community Grid has 700,000 users, has connected three million plus computing devices, has delivered 1.2 milllion years of computing time to humanitarian research on subjects including HIV/AIDS, cancer, Ebola and clean energy, with significant research impacts.

World Community Grid effectively demonstrated the commercial potential of grid computing to clients, addressing concerns around its cost effectiveness, security, reliability, flexibility, ease of use and scalability.  It has also generated many reputational and PR benefits with coverage in many major media channels across the world.


More about IBM

Official UK IBM website

World Community Grid online

IBM UK's profile on the Business in the Community Website