RealTime IT News

Sun Puts Grid on Trading Floor

Sun Microsystems is putting the business of Wall Street in its new enterprise grid.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company announced Thursday that it plans to launch a new technology exchange service with Archipelago Holdings that will allow Sun Grid customers to buy and sell their server compute cycles. Similar to a trading floor, customers will be able to bid on CPU usage cycles, and companies can access an unlimited number of CPUs as they need them.

The announcement comes on the back of Sun's new pay-per-use utility offerings, which include the Sun Grid compute utility at $1 per CPU, per hour ($1/cpu-hr); and the Sun Grid storage utility at $1 per gigabyte per month ($1/GB-mo).

The open, all-electronic stock exchange uses Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx), Archipelago Holdings' electronic matching technology. ArcaEx trades Nasdaq-listed equity securities and exchange-listed equity securities, including those traded on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Pacific Exchange.

"The technological underpinnings of the Archipelago Exchange could be customized to trade nearly anything, and as the demand for computing power increases, we see great potential in building an exchange for trading CPU usage cycles," Steve Rubinow, Archipelago Exchange CTO, said in a statement.

The concept of buying and trading compute cycles has been around since before mainframes were invented, when engineers would barter for number-crunching time on a network. Only recently, with the advent of enterprise grid technology, have companies like Sun, IBM , HP and others begun to tap into the commercial aspects of grid technologies.

For example, HP's grid-for-barter plan is called Tycoon. The framework sits above the application layer and augments HP's adaptive enterprise strategy with a combination of service-oriented architectures , virtualization and Model-Driven Automation (MDA) to create a so-called "implementation agnostic" configuration.

IBM, which has three grid centers in New York, Houston and France, has started offering a commercial grid program that undercuts Sun's prices by half. However, Big Blue has not stated any plans to offer an exchange service where customers can buy or trade their compute cycles or storage.

"The concept of compute exchanges, much like the idea of a widely available, massively scalable computing grid, creates and raises new and potentially very disruptive questions for IT executives at enterprises of all types," Michael Dortch, a principal analyst with IT research firm Robert Frances Group, told internetnews.com.

"The ability to acquire compute cycles economically as they are needed is incredibly compelling. However, questions about how requests for those cycles will be prioritized, and whether or not priorities will be governed by service agreements, auctions or other mechanisms are just the beginning for interested IT decision-makers," he added. "The fact that these questions are being raised is good for all concerned, but actual, specific business benefits will have to wait until at least some of these questions are asked -- and answered -- by Sun, its partners and at least some of its competitors."

In the coming months, Sun said it will also roll out related Sun Grid products for the desktop and developer communities.