IBM has come up with a new grid computing bundle for small and mid-sized businesses.

Called Grid and Grow, it offers software, hardware and services and plans to act as a starter pack for those that want to move into grid computing. It will be launched at the LinuxWorld show in San Francisco today.

"We are seeing more and more customers constrained for computing capacity turning to grid to expand their capacity without having to completely rip and replace their computing environments," said Al Bunshaft, vice president of grid computing at IBM. "We chose a LinuxWorld rollout because of the very close relationship between the explosion of grid technology and Linux as a primary operating platform."

Although some companies have adopted grid computing, others are put off the technology by what they see as its associated complexity, Bunshaft noted. "[Grid and Grow] is a very easy on-ramp to adopt the technology," he said. "It's the first building block - and not a trivial one - that allows a company to put in the environment and get significant value out of it."

The service is based on IBM's eServer BladeCenter blade, with customers able to choose from three different processors, according to Bunshaft. There's the Intel-based eServer BladeCenter HS20, the IBM Power-based JS20 BladeCenter or the LS20 blade powered by AMD's Opteron.

The standard Grid and Grow configuration will include a single BladeCenter chassis with seven Intel-based blades, since this is the configuration IBM has seen most customers begin with, Bunshaft said. The bundle is extensible, so that customers purchasing Grid and Grow over time can expand to a full BladeCenter with 14 blades, he added.

IBM's Director management software is included with BladeCenter. Portions of Big Blue's Tivoli systems management software are also available as part of the bundle, including dynamic server provisioning, software license tracking and grid storage management.

Customers purchasing the bundle have a choice of scheduling software to help manage computing resources - either IBM's LoadLeveler, Altair's PBS Professional, DataSynapse's GridServer or Platform's LSF, according to Bunshaft. The choice depends on the type of workload customers are planning to use and the industry they operate in, he said.

For an operating system, customers can choose from either Red Hat or Novell Suse Linux, or Windows or IBM's AIX 5L Unix operating system.

The starting price is $49,000. Initially, it will be available only in the Americas, with a rollout to Europe and Asia-Pacific planned for sometime this year.