Sun’s Utility Grid Play: Act II

Sun Microsystems is expanding its utility
computing sphere of influence to now encompass its closest partners.

Armed with a combination of its Fire V20z servers, N1 Grid Engine software and either its Solaris
Operating System or Linux software, Sun is wooing large contracts from companies
in the petroleum and energy, life sciences, financial services, media and entertainment, and automotive
and manufacturing industries.

As previously reported,
the company is selling its services in unconventional ways, which include in
increments of an hour for less than a dollar with some of its
“right to use” licenses available on eBay . For
its all-inclusive, pay-for-use Sun Utility Computing for Midrange Sun
StorEdge Systems, Sun said pricing starts at 80 cents per Power Unit (SPU), per month.

As for delivering the backbone of the service, Sun said it has signed
several partners including Atos Origin, CGI and EDS.

Bjorn Andersson, Sun’s marketing director for grid computing,
told internetnews.com that the company is just taking registrations now, because the
infrastructure won’t be ready till about mid-to-late November. “We have hundreds of people asking about
it and kicking the tires, so to speak.”

This is the second phase of Sun’s master plan to help telcos and
service providers eliminate some of the capital expenditures and maintenance costs of
its networks. But the contracts were for Sun customers on Sun
equipment. This time around, Sun is adding support for its iForce
members on their choice of equipment. Potentially, a non-Sun company could be running non-Sun equipment, but
Sun will still be reaping the benefits.

The third phase, due next year,
broadens the model to include the rest of the IT world.

The new offering includes value-added services from Sun’s partners,
such as private and secure partitioning within a data center; options
for large data sets or custom applications; customization services for
unique workload requirements; architecture design; grid application
tuning and integration; data management services; pay-per-use storage;
and partner-provided applications and management.

Andersson also pointed out that the company is testing two grids in North America at undisclosed locations. That’s not because
of national security reasons, but because Sun is trying to cut a
long-term contract.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest in this from the big oil and gas
companies to companies that do financial services to universities,”
Ashif Dhanani, director of Sun’s utility computing marketing said. “One
of the things this does is help us address the mid-tier range companies
that could not afford to purchase the computers or manage the
infrastructure.

“With this Sun program,” Dhanani continued, “customers get access to resources right away
without the need for long-term contracts and gives them a forum to use
this as a commodity product.”

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