Sun Unlocks Grid for $1

Sun COO Jonathan Schwartz was in New York today to unveil the company's latest products - including a $1 grid computing service

September 22, 2004

3 Min Read
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Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) unveiled a raft of new products today in a bid to wow the financial sector and steal a march on archrivals IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ).

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's COO, launched the products at the company's quarterly Network Computing event in New York. Keen to tap into the immense processing demands of Wall Street firms, Schwartz used the conference to unveil the company's latest weapon in the grid computing war.

As part of its N1 Grid strategy, Sun will now offer users access to grids of computing power for as little as $1 per hour, the company claims. Using the Internet, customers will be able to purchase additional CPU cycles for their business, Schwartz said.

The offerings are based on Sun Fire V20z and V40z servers and Opteron processors, removing the need for customers to invest in additional servers for their datacenters, according to Sun.

Grid computing, which enables a pool of computing, network, and storage resources to be accessed as and when users require it, is big news at the moment. Following the last few years of economic slowdown, users are terrified at the prospect of being saddled with expensive excess data center capacity. The solution being touted by the industry is to access grids of computing power hosted by third-party vendors, which can provide the exact resources needed at any given time.Sun faces some stiff competition from rivals IBM and HP, who have already started to make a name for themselves as grid computing providers (see IBM Opens 3rd Supercomputing Center, IBM Intros Grid Offering, and HP Delivers Storage Grid Solution).

But Sun, following a turbulent period in the company's history, is offering a wealth of new deals and pricing models in an attempt to win customers' hearts, minds, and wallets, of which the $1-per-hour grid strategy is just one. The company also used its New York event to plug new incentives aimed specifically at financial services companies.

One of these is a trade-in program for Intel Corp.'s (Nasdaq: INTC) Xeon processors, which offers cash credits to users switching from Xeon to Advanced Micro Devices's (NYSE: AMD) Opteron chips. Although Sun offers both processors in its server line, there is particular interest in Opteron from users at the moment, with the technology regarded as a straightforward migration path from 32-bit hardware to 64-bit.

Sadly, however, Sun's announcements today made no reference to the company's eagerly awaited Opteron-based blade server (see 64-Bit Blades Battle).

In addition to its ongoing hardware battle with the likes of IBM and HP, Sun's Solaris software platform is also facing stiff competition from Linux vendors such as Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT). In an attempt to meet this challenge, Sun also unveiled a Linux-to-Solaris upgrade program for financial services firms, which includes a 50 percent discount on a right-to-use license of Solaris when they upgrade from Linux.The financial community, with its massive data and security demands, is a major target for technology suppliers at the moment. Sun and HP, in particular, are locked in a struggle to win market share. Sun's Website, for example, has a section persuading users to move from the HP-UX operating system to Solaris. Not to be outdone, HP announced yesterday that it had nabbed 200 of Sun's server customers, some of which are in the financial services sector (see HP Lands Sun Server Customers).

In addition to all the hardware and services announcements, Sun also provided insight into some of its future networking technologies (see Sun Expands Storage). Following its acquisition of Nauticus Networks earlier this year, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm has been working to build additional virtualization and performance capabilities into its future products. According to Sun, the new networking infrastructure has blown the doors off the company's existing products in preliminary tests, achieving 10,000 SSL connections per second and 2 Gbit/s of cryptographic throughput.

James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum

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