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Sun to unveil new grid group, products

The new business unit is already working on grid-based services

By Robert McMillan
January 28, 2005 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Sun Microsystems Inc. has formed a new business unit chartered with developing a line of grid computing products that the company plans to unveil at an event Tuesday at its Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters.
The unit has been quietly working since late 2004 to develop a new line of grid-based services. The first of these products, expected to be unveiled next week, will include a new storage grid product as well as an expanded version of the company's N1 Pay-Per-Use Grid Computing service. Sun plans to begin offering the service on a widespread commercial basis.
The new group is headed by Robert Youngjohns, who already serves as executive vice president of strategic development and Sun financing. The unit, also referred to as the utility computing group, was formed several months ago, but next week's announcements will mark its public unveiling, according to Sun.
Over the past several years, a number of industry vendors have embraced the idea of grid computing. Loosely defined as technology that lets computers share resources, grid has been used to describe everything from high-performance computing clusters to distributed computing projects like the University of California's SETI@Home to an emerging set of open standards that allows computing power to be provided on an as-needed basis, much like electricity or water.
Sun has already dabbled in the grid computing world. It sells distributed computing software called the N1 Grid Engine, which allows computers to share processing resources. Since October, it has been working with partners like Electronic Data Systems Corp. and CGI Group Inc. to provide resources such as a service for customers who require extremely large amounts of high-performance computing power.
And last year, Sun unveiled its Pay-Per-Use service, which it billed as a convenient way for customers to purchase extra compute cycles for as little as $1 per CPU per hour.
Sun initially offered a free trial of Pay-Per-Use but was forced to "take the trial site down fairly quickly because we had to go to commercial [deployments]," said Aisling MacRunnels, senior director of utility computing at Sun. Next week, Sun will announce plans to include storage services as well as an enhanced version of the Pay-Per-Use plan, she said.
Though she declined to reveal specifics, MacRunnels said Sun had already invested a large amount of capital in building the six regional centers that will support Sun's grid services. "This is a new definition of grid. A much broader definition of grid," she said. "We have turned a labs-type thing, with a playground grid, into something that is very commercially scalable."
Sun's utility computing

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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