Pay-Per-Use Computing: Will It Fly?
Opinion: David Chernicoff sees value in the PPU model Sun is pushing, but wonders whether, among other things, customers will buy into the concept.Back, somewhere before the dawn of time, when I first got involved with computers, computing resources were incredibly expensive. On the big iron machines that I first encountered, the cost of use was so high that users were allotted and billed for CPU seconds. And the cost per second could be quite significant. Of course, this was also in the day of punch cards and batch jobs, where a couple of days of work spent punching cards was followed by dropping the cards off at the computing center for the program they contained to be executed at some point in the future by the computer operators. For the cutting edge in computer technology I had available a teletype terminal with a paper tape reader and a 110-baud modem, so that I could do work remotely. But whatever I chose to do was limited by the available CPU time allotted to my account. While not completely obsolete, time-sharing on big iron these days is pretty much limited to academics arguing for cycles on supercomputers to run their pet projects. The business world has moved on to dedicated computing resources that dont require explicit sharing between different applications and departments; the cost of the hardware and software has dropped so low (compared to the old mainframe days) that this makes business and economic sense.
But now it appears we have come full circle with Suns announcement on Sept. 21 of N1 Grid Computing Pay-Per-Use Cycles. In this concept users will be able to buy computing cycles on other peoples computers on an as-needed basis. The PPU concept is based on making use of the N1 Grid Container technology that was announced last march.