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Sun Wants Grid to Become an 'Application Jukebox' - InternetNews.
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Sun Wants Grid to Become an 'Application Jukebox'

Sun announced a fine tuning of its grid strategy today, with an emphasis on ready-to-use applications. Network.com, Sun's online compute utility, will house a catalog of software from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and open source development communities. The idea is to provide high performance computing applications online and deliver them as services to users.

One point of distinction from rivals HP  and IBM  as well as others in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model is that Sun is simply serving as a platform for the software vendors rather than charging them or sharing in revenue.

Sun charges $1 per CPU hour for use of its grid and that flat rate remains the same for running apps in the catalog. The initial offering is a modest 20+ applications, though Sun has big plans to expand the list.

"We're letting ISVs reach new markets and leverage a high performance computing without needing their own infrastructure," Rohit Valia, head of marketing for Network.com told internetnews.com. "And this is all pre-provisioned. For the user, it's pre-tested and pre-tuned, just bring your data."

The open source apps are free of charge. Commercial app vendors can charge what they want to and deal with customers directly. "This is an open system," said Valia. "Anyone with an idea and an account can publish to the catalog." Network.com customers can use a purchase order system or the online transaction service PayPal to establish an account.

Gartner analyst Laura McLellan said Sun's initial catalog is small, but she expects the company to announce a significant expansion of titles at its Java One conference in May. She also thinks Sun's strategy of being more of a neutral platform provider than others will pay off.

"Sun is giving ISVs tech support to get their apps grid-enabled and free time to develop and test them," McLellan told internetnews.com. "HP and IBM charge from day one. And, Sun is letting the software provider keep customer control. I like the strategy because it lets them build communities of ISVs and software providers who can look at Sun and say 'This is not someone who is going to compete with us, but help us.' It's fully transparent."

One of the first ISVs in the Sun Grid Application Catalog is InfoSolve Technologies which offers data integration services.

"We help customers match data across a series of attributes, which can be a simple cross-section of a few characteristics or a complex multi-attribute matching across multiple data sources with millions of records," said Subbu Manchiraju, vice president of Infosolve, in a statement. "We look to Network.com as a secure, scalable way to gain the additional processing power we need to service our customers without the added hassle of building and maintaining a datacenter infrastructure."

Valia said he envisions Network.com as a kind of application jukebox from which companies or users can select what they want to run. He said life sciences, education and manufacturing are areas Sun's seen the most interest since it launched its Sun Grid service last year.

Analyst McLellan said she wouldn't be surprised to see Sun add Windows support in a few months. Currently the system supports Sun's own Solaris operating system as well as Linux.