subject: Sun offers processing by the hour
posted: Wed, 02 Feb 2005 11:30:00 -0000

[..and the gridwars begin. - Stu]

Sun offers processing by the hour

Sun Microsystems has launched a pay-as-you-go service which will
allow customers requiring huge computing power to rent it by the

Sun Grid costs users $1 (53p) for an hour's worth of processing and
storage power on systems maintained by Sun.

So-called grid computing is the latest buzz phrase in a company which
believes that computing capacity is as important a commodity as
hardware and software.

Sun likened grid computing to the development of electricity.

'Buck an hour'

The system could mature in the same way utilities such as electricity
and water have developed, said Sun's chief operating officer Jonathan

"Why build your own grid when you can use ours for a buck an hour?"
he asked in a webcast launching Sun's quarterly Network Computing
event in California.

The company will have to persuade data centre managers to adopt a new
model but it said it already had interest from customers in the oil,
gas and financial services industries.

Some of them want to book computing capacity of more than 5,000
processors each, Sun said.

Mr Schwartz ran a demonstration of the service, showing how data
could be processed in a protein folding experiment.

Hundreds of servers were used simultaneously, working on the problem
for a few seconds each.

IBM rival

Although it only took a few seconds, the experiment cost $12 (6.30)
because it had used up 12 hour's worth of computing power.

The Sun Grid relies on Solaris, the open source operating system
owned by Sun.

Initially it will house the grid in existing premises and will use
idle servers to test software before shipping it to customers.

It has not said how much the system will cost to develop but it
already has a rival in IBM, which argues that its capacity on-demand
service is cheaper than that offered by Sun.

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