Sun expands its catalog of pay-by-the-hour service apps

To help companies and universities looking for computing power on an as-needed basis, Sun Microsystems today added 14 new applications and services to its Application Catalog.'s Sun Grid Compute Utility is a service for companies and universities who don't have the resources or don't want to spend large amounts of money to create a new data infrastructure just for limited-use applications. Rather than force customers down that path, Sun charges users of $1 per CPU hour used, on a strictly pay-per-use basis with no long-term contract necessary.

As an example, a business will be charged only $17 if it uses an application distributed across 100 CPUs for 10 minutes each.

Even though any company or university is invited to use the service, smaller businesses and academic think tanks have been the biggest users thus far, as indicated by the wide variety of academic and scientific programs available.

"Utility computing is the future of IT," said Sun spokesperson Chhandomay Mandal. "In addition to the raw compute power available from, Sun has created a robust portal at for ISVs and developers to create, publish and use open source-based as well as ISV applications, and Sun earns revenue whenever customers and end-users run the applications -- their own or the ones available from the catalog -- on the grid."

As an avid supporter of open source technology, the Grid Compute Utility has a wide catalog of open source programs available to clients of The new programs and utilities added include the open source 3D rendering program Blender, the life sciences program Zeus, and the commputational mathematics application GAP. Programs such as Emboss, BLAST, Rational Numbers, FreeFEM, FDS, and more than 30 others have been made available on

In the future, Sun hopes to use as an ideal virtual on-demand data service that can be used at a low cost by a wide variety of companies and universities.

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