SAN FRANCISCO-It doesn't have anything called the Sun Cloud Computing platform to demonstrate to potential enterprise clients, but Sun Microsystems appears confident going into 2009 that it can still serve as Cloud Central for companies that want to venture into the vast Internet skies on their own.
The company told journalists and analysts Dec. 9 here that its new cloud computing office is open for business and that, based on 26 years of network computing expertise, it can coordinate software, hardware and services from various sections of the company to put together enterprise cloud computing infrastructures.
Sun fully intends to carve out for itself a good portion of the $42 billion worldwide market for cloud computing construction that is projected for 2012. At the moment, IDC reports, the cloud computing infrastructure market is at $16 billion and rising, and the competition for those dollars is ratcheting up.
Cloud computing-otherwise known as utility/grid/on-demand computing-serves up processing power, data storage or applications from one data center location over a grid to thousands or millions of users on a subscription basis. This general kind of cloud-for example, services provided online by Amazon EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute), Google Apps and Salesforce.com-is known as a "public" cloud because any business or individual can subscribe.
Private cloud computing is a different take on the mainstream version, in that smaller cloudlike IT systems within a firewall offer similar services, but to a closed internal network. This private, generally more controllable network may include corporate or division offices, other companies that are also business partners, raw-material suppliers, resellers, production-chain entities and other organizations intimately connected with a corporate mother ship.
The services range from simple online document backup and file storage to heavy-duty, 24/7 social networking Web sites, corporate geo-positioning services, financial services transactions, and scientific and oil/gas exploration applications.
The key financial joy to this is that companies don't have to build their own capital-project data centers any longer. They can lease the computing power on a need-to-use basis, and pay on a subscription plan-daily, monthly or yearly.