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Sun's Utility Grid To Open for Business - InternetNews.
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Sun's Utility Grid To Open for Business

Sun Microsystems is launching a new utility computing service based on its N1 provisioning and virtualization infrastructure, all at a cut rate.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker said its Utility Computing for Grid is the "next logical evolution" of its model for midrange storage and high performance grid computing . The company is selling its services in increments of an hour for less than a dollar with some of its right to use licenses even available on eBay .

Launched in New York Tuesday as part of Sun's "Take Back Wall Street" blitz, the service is the latest bid by Sun chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz and other company execs to regain financial services customers who have moved to cheaper computing platforms. Sun's pay-per-use services compete with similar "on-demand" offerings from IBM and HP .

Sun and its systems integration partners, ATOS Origin, CGI and EDS, support the program, which runs on Sun Fire V20z servers, Sun N1 Grid Engine software and Linux software. Designed as a grid computing infrastructure, Sun said its pay-per-use offering is perfect for its high-performance computing markets, including financial services, electronic design automation (EDA), mechanical computer-aided engineering (MCAE), petroleum, digital content creation (rendering farms) and life sciences.

Introductory pricing for the Sun Utility Computing for Grid solution starts as low as USD$0.99 per dual CPU node, per hour. For its all-inclusive, pay-for-use Sun Utility Computing for Midrange Sun StorEdge Systems, pricing starts at USD$0.80 per what Sun said is its Power Unit (SPU), per month.

Schwartz describes a Sun Power Unit as a cache of features and functions that account for the type and class of system, software, services and other related factors required to address customers' specific business and technical needs.

Sun is also launching a Compute@Sun model where customers can take advantage of access to thousands of CPUs in Sun's own environment. The program includes access to the soon-to-be-open-sourced Solaris 10 Operating System (OS), and Opteron processor-based Sun Fire servers by accessing the Compute@Sun Web site. Introductory pricing for the Compute@Sun solution will be USD$0.79 per CPU, per hour.

"IBM's 'On Demand' outsourcing strategy is being brought under scrutiny the world over - yet no one doubts the value of leveraging the Internet, rather than body shops, to lower the cost and complexity of managing grids. We're proud to be the first to peg a price for computation," Sun COO Schwartz said in a statement.

Schwartz also said his experience on introducing the pricing structures with Wall Street companies and one particular banking CIO went over well.

"What would you think, I asked, if Sun built out a farm of 20,000 CPU's, all running Solaris, divisible into 'Trusted' containers? And I sold you the right to use an industry standard OS/CPU combination in increments of CPU-hours? Solaris/Opteron or Solaris/SPARC, you pick" Schwartz said in his recent blog. "We'll run all your Red Hat apps in a Januspar tition, and spare you the license cost."

After pausing for a second, Schwartz said the banking CIO asked if Sun would charge by the CPU hour

"'How much would you charge me?' the CIO asked. Good question. My response, 'No clue, but we could put the RTU's on eBay and see what happened."

Schwartz said he has since met with a movie studio, rendering one of the new superhero movies and a company that designs jet aircraft.

"And then the banking CIO called back, and said, "'I thought about it, and it's not a lot of our workload, but I bet we could take 5-10 percent of our workload and leverage your compute farm. When's it up on eBay?'"

The new Utility computing model is just on of more than two-dozen additions to Sun's hardware and software lineups that the company is debuting.

Michael Dortch, principal business analyst and editorial director at IT research firm Robert Frances Group, said Sun is making some moves for Wall Street but needs to find a groove fast for these new products.

"There's lots of promise here for many types of customers," Dortch said. "The challenge for Sun is to deliver on the promise, by surrounding these offerings with effective sales, service, and support. Enterprise IT executives, especially those in industries and at companies where Sun has been losing market share, need all the help Sun can provide to convince their colleagues that the company is as safe and sure a bet as many of its technologies appear to be. High-quality services and support, proven reference architectures, and sales forces that can cash the checks being written by mouthpieces at headquarters are all essential elements of this grand effort."