Sun Moves Grid Team into Software Group

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-09-28 Print this article Print

Part of the rationale behind bringing the grid team closer to the rest of the software organization is creating alignment with its developers, Sun's software head says.

Sun Microsystems is hoping to revive the fortunes of its grid computing initiative by moving that team into the software group under Rich Green, its executive vice president for software. While Green denied the move was an expression of unhappiness or dissatisfaction with the management and handling of Suns grid strategy to date, there is speculation that Stuart Wells, the companys executive vice president for utility computing, has been removed from his position of leading the grid project.
In an interview with eWEEK, Green declined to say whether the Santa Clara, Calif., company has made any changes to the teams leadership. He also declined to give a number for how many staff members are on the grid team, saying only that those who created the Sun grid technology "are now all in software."
Greens explanation for the move is that "the Sun grid program is an exercise in mainstreaming grid and service-based software platforms, so what other place would we have it than in the software team? Its really that elemental," he said. The move geared to bring developers into the Sun grid fold. "We are very interested in stepping up our activities and investments in the developer area. The rationale behind bringing the team closer to the rest of the software organization is also about alignment with our developers," Green said. To read more about how Sun wants to bring more software developers onto its hosted grid initiative, click here. As such, the organizational structure is being looked at closely as Sun wants to make sure that, in line with its increasingly "developer-centric, developer-friendly, developer-active drive, we address the conspicuous absence of the developer aspect in the grid program. You will certainly see that part added," Green said. The grid team brings a wealth of experience in a number of key areas to the software group—from those who assembled and deployed the physical grid infrastructure to the software team that built the management, billing and payment components, as well as the management and administration capabilities, he said. Suns public computing grid opened for business earlier this year. Click here to read more. Sun has doubled the number of members of the Sun Developer Network to two million, which "has a lot of power and reach, and we want to make sure that membership has access to our grid technologies," he said. Sun is also increasingly talking abut software as a service, horizontal scale and Web 2.0, Green said, noting, "You can see that there is a pattern emerging, and this is part of that and very much a strategic alignment. "You will see and hear more going forward about how we use Solaris in these environments and how we use our reach and expertise in developer tools to do that, and how we use our provisioning technology to enable these dynamic hosted environments. This is all a big, strategic come-together," he said. Asked who is using the Sun grid, Green said it ranges from HPC (high-performance computing) to certain types of overflow to small-scale experimental developers. But he deflected the question of whether Suns grid is being used to capacity, saying that a lot of the near-term use is from HPC runs that take days, weeks and months. "There are regular utilization and load patterns in the grid, and that is why the important learning experiences that we have, such as being able to dynamically allocate workloads based on usage patterns, is one of the interesting takeaways here. So there are a lot of new concepts in operating these single and multiple software-as-a-service environments," Green said. Suns involvement in this space spans several areas, he said, from the Sun grid development and technology architecture to the companys operation of development and deployment grids. But the company is also essentially developing grid products that allow other companies to build and deploy grid services and software as a service. To read why Suns CTO believes open services are the next big thing, click here. "Suns history is much more around the latter than the former, and I think you will see us continue to work with ISVs, but as we add developer work and the ability for people to rapidly create grid-enabled solutions, you will see us essentially bending those platforms for people to build public and private grids," he said. Asked how successful Sun has been in its developer outreach, given that competitors like IBM, Hewlett-Packard and others are also trying to attract developers to their grid platforms, Green said all this work will be brought under the Sun Developer Network banner, which currently has two million developers. Many of the concepts used in the grid are also already available to SDN developers, "so we would argue that this far outstrips any of the developer programs [at IBM and HP]," he said. While Sun will continue to look at the pricing models, the current plan is to leave pricing unchanged at $1 an hour per processor. "We have been very successful with that model, and those pricing units as well as the price itself have helped us attract a lot of ISVs and developers, so we dont plan to announce any changes there," Green said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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