Sun Microsystems believes it is at the forefront of the developing utility-computing evolution, with its nascent pay-per-use programs gaining momentum and a plan to double its regional grid-computing-center network in the coming year.
Since announcing in September its initiative to deliver utility computing access at a rate of $1 per CPU per hour, Sun has talked with more than a dozen large customers who are engaging in "multi-thousand CPU, multiyear contracts," says Jonathan Schwartz, president and chief operating officer of Sun.
Those customers include a movie studio, an oil and gas company, and a financial institution, which represent "the leading lights of the industry," he says.
Ultimately, the success of Sun's utility effort will be gauged on engagements with numerous smaller companies for small increments of CPUs. Sun currently has five regional grid-computing centers from which it offers its utility service, and Schwartz says the company is likely to add an additional five centers in the next year in major metropolitan centers.
Schwartz believes Sun's utility-computing effort is more attuned to mainstream market usage than other efforts such as IBM's per-use offering of its high-end Blue Gene computer, which was announced earlier this month. "IBM is probably the only reasonable competitor out there, but when you ask them how much their grid costs, they say it depends," he says. "To us, that is the antithesis of a utility."