Seven software vendors including Citrix, Cognos and Engineous are ready to let loose IBM's vision of grid computing on the world, the company has announced.

All seven signed up to Big Blue's Solutions Grid for Business Partners in 2003, which gave ISVs access to IBM engineering expertise, hardware and software at four centres in the UK and US. There, they went through "a very well-defined process" to extend their applications, said Steve Gordon, an exec for grid computing at IBM.

"The centers are set up to support whatever configuration - within limits - they want to test with their application, " Gordon said. IBM developed the Solutions Grid program to promote the idea of grid computing in the commercial world. Grid computing itself is a way of developing software so that it can use computing resources from many different systems.

Citrix, for example, used the program to extend the load balancing capabilities of its MetaFrame software using IBM's Tivoli Orchestrator product. With the new grid-enabled MetaFrame, customers can tell the software to automatically add new servers to run the application, whenever it is being heavily used. "What this integrated service does is it effectively automates the process," said Chris Fleck managing director of strategic alliances with Citrix.

The Solutions Grid program also helps ISVs grid-enable their applications using grid software from IBM partners. Citrix, again, is now working with DataSynapse to integrate the Citrix Presentation Server with DataSynapse's application management software, Fleck said.

The other ISVs that have signed up to IBM's approach are Abaqus, Actuate, Fluent and Sefas. IBM has another 15 software vendors signed up for the program, Gordon said.