Sun's grid computing service goes global

Sun Microsystems Inc. is expanding its Network.com utility computing service from the U.S. to 23 countries in Europe and Asia, the company said Thursday.

The utility computing service, in which customers pay an hourly rate for access to a Sun data center, began as a U.S.-only pilot in March but is now ready for a large geographic expansion, said Rohit Valia, group product manager for the Sun Grid Compute Utility.

Sun charges $1 per CPU per hour to access a network of Sun x64 hardware running the Solaris 10 operating system. End users can now access the utility from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and the U.K.

IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and other computer vendors provide similar services. Utility computing, also called on-demand computing or, more informally, computing "in the cloud," is for organizations that have a short-term need for extra computing capacity but don't want to incur the expense of adding onto their own data centers. By taking advantage of utility computing services, they only have to build out their own IT infrastructures to handle an average level of usage, not the occasional peak usage, said Valia.

"Our business model is around charging for CPU cycles, not idle CPUs. We only charge when your CPU is actually processing data," he said.

Sun is also adding a feature called Network.com Internet Access that enables customers to interact, through Sun's utility data center and the Internet, with other companies that have resources the customer might want to use for a particular project. The company will also offer a limited beta program for developers called Job Management Application Programming Interfaces. This offering allows users to perform production-scale tests when they're building software applications using Network.com.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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