Sun Microsystems Inc. wants to make it easier for customers to move into a utility computing environment.
In February Sun unveiled Sun Grid, an initiative that lets customers access compute resources—hosted in several global data centers—for $1 per CPU hour. At its quarterly product rollout this week, the Santa Clara, Calif., company will expand on the program, giving customers a bridge to ease the transition to hosted computing and its extension to the storage arena.
"There is a huge cultural change that has to happen to get customers to adopt a utility computing environment," said Aisling MacRunnels, senior director of utility computing at Sun.
To help ease customer concerns, Sun this week is rolling out the Sun Grid Rack System, which lets customers buy a fully configured, pretested grid computing package that can be easily integrated with IT environments. Sun will help each customer select a configuration, build a grid and integrate it with the customers data center. Initially, the configurations will offer only Suns x86 systems powered by Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron processors, but they could expand to include SPARC-based systems, depending on customer demand.
As the rack system becomes more popular, Sun will offer ways to link a customers in-house grid with Sun Grid, enabling users to move tasks back and forth.
This bridge to grid computing is a change for Sun, which in the past had offered good technology but little help for customers to adopt it, MacRunnels said.
Michael Hodges, manager of system services at the University of Hawaii, said that help is important if Sun is to persuade users to move to a hosted grid.
"Tapping a grid is a paradigm shift, and most Sun customers are going to need a great deal of assistance with understanding the business-value proposition if Sun is going to sign them up early," said Hodges in Honolulu.
To spruce up its storage-as-a-service offering, Sun will announce a repackaging of its storage and data management portfolio called Sun Java StorEdge Software and Suites, designed to conform to its subscription-based Java Enterprise System model.
The new offering can be purchased in its entirety or in four software suites, each mapped to customers most significant data management challenges. The suites include Sun Java StorEdge Consolidation Suite, Sun Java StorEdge Continuity Suite, Sun Java StorEdge Content Suite and Sun Java StorEdge Compliance Suite.
In addition, Sun this week will unveil its Sun Managed Storage Services, to help customers better manage complex storage environments.
The first phase of the Managed Storage Services program will support large-scale, Sun-centric environments. Over the next few months, that will expand to include support for heterogeneous storage products.
According to Sun officials, the first phase of the Sun Grid storage utility program is an easily predictable dollar-per-gigabyte-per-month scheme featuring file-based storage data recovery, archiving, policy management and retention.
The second phase, to be rolled out later this year and beyond, will offer compliance and business continuity services targeting any Sun customer with a Web browser.
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