Sun Offers Grid Computing as Utility

Sun unveiled its grid computing offering late Tuesday, attempting to "radically simplify" the process and make it easy for corporations to purchase computer time over a network. Sun hopes to make grid computing as easy as buying electricity and water through wires and pipes.

Using a pay-as-you-go concept, Sun will charge its customers $1 an hour per processor used and $1 each month per gigabyte of storage the company requires. According to Sun, some 10,000 processors are online in data centers in Texas, New Jersey, Virginia, and Scotland, with more expected to go live throughout the rest of the year.

"Today Sun has taken the next big step in offering IT as a utility and is the first vendor to truly deliver on the promise of an open, standardized grid," said Scott McNealy, Sun's CEO. "As the IT industry continues to evolve, customers will need to move away from building data centers in a one-off customized model toward a standardized model and eventually to a utility model."

While grid computing is not new -- a similar concept to what Sun is using has already been used by IBM since 2003 -- faster networks and new technology are making grids a more viable concept. In this case, Sun is only charging its customers for the space and computing power they use, rather than a flat fee.

Sun executive vice president Robert Youngjohns says that the new grid offering only scratches the surface of what the company plans to do in the realm of network computing in the coming months and years.

"Sun is on a mission to change the rules of network computing, driving down the costs of systems and software, making sophisticated software capability affordable and easier to access, improving network security and the business contribution of the IT infrastructure," Youngjohns said.

"No other company is doing more to make business-class utility offerings as broadly accessible and reliable as Sun Microsystems."

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