Sun Microsystems has extended its grid computing service to New Zealand, making supercomputing resources available locally.
The Network.com utility computing service has now been extended beyond the United States and is being launched in 23 countries across Europe and Asia.
Utility computing, in which customers pay an hourly rate for access to a Sun datacentre, began as a US-only pilot in March but is now ready for major geographic expansion, according to Rohit Valia, group product manager for the Sun Grid Compute Utility.
Sun charges US$1 (NZ$1.36) per CPU (central processing unit), per hour to access a network of Sun x64 hardware running the Solaris 10 operating system.
New Zealand end-users can now access the utility if they have a short-term need for extra computing capacity but don’t want to incur the expense of adding onto their own datacentres.
“Our business model is around charging for CPU cycles, not idle CPUs. We only charge when your CPU is actually processing data,” Valia says.
Sun is also adding a feature called Network.com Internet Access, so that Sun customers can interact, through Sun’s utility datacentre internet link, with other companies that have resources the customer might want to use for a particular project.
The company is also offering a limited beta programme for developers called Job Management Application Programming Interfaces, which allows users to perform production scale-tests, to build software applications using Network.com.
Sun believes the grid will make supercomputing resources available to companies that can’t presently afford them. However, some customers are concerned about security.
Sun CEO Scott McNealy says this kind of hesitation ultimately scuttled a Sun Grid deployment with an unnamed bank. The bank made so many security and compliance-related demands that Sun eventually walked away from the deal, he says.
“When it came down to it, they said that, even though Sun was not able to see the data, they wanted us to warrant that the data would never be lost and, if anybody ever got hold of it, it would be our fault,” he says.
Eventually Sun said: “We’re out of here. We’ve wasted our time with you guys,” says McNealy.
It may take an exceptional event to move a large number of customers over to products like Sun Grid, McNealy says.