Sun Grid Goes Live

By Nicole Hemsoth

March 27, 2006

Sun Microsystems Inc. announced Internet access of its Sun Grid Compute Utility in the United States. Through a simple-to-use portal, users — including developers, scientists and researchers — will now have access to Sun Grid, the world's first compute utility available at $1/CPU/Hour. With low barriers to entry and exit, easy access and no long-term contracts required, users in diverse industries — including finance, oil and gas, education and life sciences — will now be able to run complex computational tasks, technical applications and develop applications on Sun Grid. Users in the United States can access the pilot release of Sun Grid at www.network.com.

“Sun is the first and only vendor to make a credible utility grid offering available via the Internet,” said Jonathan Schwartz, president and COO of Sun Microsystems. “By delivering computing as a service, Sun Grid helps developers, academics and computing professionals optimize time to results without investment in IT infrastructure. On-demand computing is now truly on demand — with a credit card and a Web connection, not a complex outsourcing relationship.”

“With the Sun Grid offering, Sun is taking a leadership position in the emerging utility computing market — an IT market that has a sustainable growth opportunity. The Sun Grid really is 'Infrastructure as a Service,'” said Vernon Turner, group vice president and general manager at IDC.

“Oracle is working closely with Sun to help ensure that Oracle's software and On Demand offerings are optimized for the Sun Grid,” said Juergen Rottler, executive vice president of Oracle On Demand and Oracle Support.

Over the past year, Sun has been working with customers from numerous industries who have developed and deployed applications on the Sun Grid. Industry successes include:

  • Life Sciences: With Sun Grid, Applied BioSystems was able to react to new intelligence in the genomic field and perform compute-intensive data research to develop millions of new genomic assays in a matter of days rather than months.

“Understanding the genetic basis of disease is going to become more and more important in the search for new cures and novel drugs, so our goal is to make sure our researchers and customers have access to the tools and reagents they need to accelerate the science,” said Francisco M. De La Vega, scientific fellow and senior director of computational genetics at Applied BioSystems. “Sun Grid helped us achieve this goal by helping speed to market our pre-designed TaqMan assays and reducing our computing time from three months to six days; we eliminated the need to purchase additional hardware, saving the company several hundred thousand dollars; and we simplified data management and delivery of results.”

  • Finance: CDO2 is providing innovative pricing and risk technology for organizations trading structured credit products and is the first Software as a Service Partner Solution on Sun Grid. Utilizing the Sun Grid Compute Utility to power robust risk simulation services, CDO2 has enabled its customers to run complex financial simulation spreadsheets to get critical financial figures in minutes and make critical business decisions more quickly.

  • Oil and Gas: Virtual Compute Corp., a high performance computing service provider, continues to use Sun Grid to provide quick, easy access to CPU cycles to meet the growing cyclical business demands of the oil and gas industries. VCC and Sun Grid are successfully demonstrating to major oil and gas companies that using Grid-based computing on a utility basis can increase service while driving down cost.

“By using the Sun Grid Compute Utility, we were able to save up to $3 million and ramp up to production much more quickly than if we did it on our own,” said Edward Hawes, CEO Virtual Compute Corp.

  • Education: Princeton University is the first recipient of the Sun Grid Education Grant program, awarded in December 2005. The donation of 100,000 CPU hours on Sun Grid — using the Solaris 10 Operating System — has helped Princeton to conduct its cutting-edge astrophysics research at resolutions that previously were not possible due to the costs of building the necessary computing power onsite. Sun also recently announced it has donated 1 million CPU hours to a total of 10 universities, including Binghamton University, State University of New York; Clemson University; Rutgers; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); The State University of New Jersey; Southeastern Universities Research Association; University of California, Santa Cruz; University of Minnesota, Duluth; and University of Wisconsin- Madison, who will each receive 100,000 CPU hours.

Sun partners and independent software vendors (ISVs) are also seeing opportunity on Sun Grid and are working to port and deploy applications on Sun Grid. Over 60 partners — including MSC (Nastran), LSTC (LS-DYNA), Cepstral, Mathspec, Datasynapse, Platform, Turboworx, Gigaspaces and Paremus — have already signed up through the Sun Grid Readiness Offer, Sun's partner offering that gives ISVs quick access to the resources they need to help build solutions based on Sun's Grid computing technologies.

With many of its partners, Sun is currently engaged in proof-of-concept testing of third party software on Sun Grid. A broad range of commercial applications are planned to be made available on Sun Grid.

“Running GigaSpaces-based applications on the Sun Grid provides our customers with benefits in both the proof-of-concept and production stages,” said Geva Perry, executive vice president of business development at Gigaspaces. “Because the Sun Grid is so easily accessible, our customers can rapidly perform proof-of-concepts in a large distributed environment, without the need to set-up such an environment in-house. Once in production, a combined Sun Grid-GigaSpaces offering allows our customers to significantly save costs by only paying for the hardware and software resources they actually use, as opposed to over-provisioning capacity for peak loads — mostly unused capacity which they would pay for with the traditional approach.”

Sun is offering a test drive of a text-to-speech application developed by Cepstral. Users can render their text or selected blogs to mp3 ready for podcast.

Callidus Software, a provider of Enterprise Incentive Management and sales performance management solutions, has selected the Sun Grid Compute Utility to host the Callidus On-Demand Solutions. The Sun Grid enables Callidus to provide its customers with a uniquely scalable and secure service that's also highly available — the first solution of its kind in the EIM marketplace.

Since initially being formed in October 2005, the Sun Grid Developer Community has supported hundreds of developers and dozens of projects supporting applications intended to be run on the Sun Grid. The Sun Grid Developer Community is ideally suited for small-to-medium ISVs, enterprise developers and researchers in academia who have high-performance computing, batch or transactional applications that they want to optimize to run on the Sun Grid.

Developers who come to the Sun Grid Developer Community will find a wealth of content, FAQs, documentation, sample applications, advanced tools and utilities and self-help to assist in Sun Grid-enabling their applications. By registering and joining with prequalified projects, developers will be granted 100 free promotional hours on the Sun Grid to run, test and debug their applications. They will also have access to a suite of on-demand collaborative software development tools, using CollabNet Enterprise Edition, including application lifecycle management and source code control.

To learn more about the Sun Grid's first 24 hours, see GRIDtoday editor Derrick Harris' discussion with Sun's Aisling MacRunnels at www.gridtoday.com/grid/604819.html.

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