Sun Close to Launching Public Grid

Sun will finally launch its much-hyped yet much-delayed public version of its Grid product later this week, its president said. Users in the United States would be able to purchase processing cycles at the rate of $1 USD per hour each on their choice of AMD Opteron or Sun UltraSPARC processors.

The company would initially be making 5,000 CPUs available for use, with plans to increase that number as necessary. Users would be able to access the grid from the Internet at Network.com. Payment for use would be accepted through PayPal.

Company president Jonathan Schwartz made the announcement through his web log on Monday. He admitted that Sun had run into many unforeseen hurdles in making the service a reality. "Building a secure, publicly available multi-tenant grid also turned out to be exceptionally complex - there's a reason no one had ever done it before," he wrote.

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Schwartz said that through testing several vulnerabilities were discovered that led Sun to delay the release of the public Grid product. However, those have been since fixed, and eventually the company wants to make signing up to use the Grid "as simple as applying for an eBay account."

There's also a financial reason for Sun's moves. The company is desperately looking for something to get its business moving again after years of financial trouble. Sun was nearly a victim of the dot-com bubble burst, as its software and hardware became passé as well.

The grid at first would likely be used at first for high-performance computing tasks, but Sun has hopes that mainstream uses will begin to pop up over time.

"The Sun Grid is an offering we and our partners will be expanding over the months and years to come," Schwartz wrote. "This represents not only the future of product development at Sun, but like the Java platform and the Internet itself, it really represents the future of computing."

Initially, the Grid would only be available to those residing in the United States due to export constraints. However, Sun says it plans to announce international availability in the coming months.

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