At its JavaOne conference in San Francisco May 18, Sun is unveiling a host of programs designed to entice developers to build and offer their applications on the Sun Grid Compute Utility, a massive collection of Sun Grid servers that is open for use by anyone for as little as $1 per CPU hour.
"This is a big outreach campaign for developers," said Aisling MacRunnels, senior director of utility computing at Sun.
The Santa Clara, Calif., company last year launched the Sun Grid initiative, initially running what it called the commercial part of it, where larger enterprises could reserve space and run workloads. Sun engineers also have used the grid.
In March, Sun opened the grid to the public, enabling anyone with a credit card, a PayPal account and a Web browser to gain access to the grid. The opening of the public part of the grid was delayed for several months while Sun sorted through some technical issues.
In addition to the compute part of the grid, Sun engineers are looking at ways to bulk up the storage offerings. Users currently are given enough storage for uploading or downloading of data for their workloads, but Sun is hearing a demand from people who want to store data on the grid. MacRunnels said that capability should be available later this year.
The grid currently comprises servers running about 5,000 Opteron chips from Advanced Micro Devices. Sun is experimenting with systems powered by its own multicore UltraSPARC T1 processors and will bring those into the grid as needed by the workloads, MacRunnels said.
A key to attracting more users to the grid is building up the applications available on it, she said.
"We are the infrastructure; the compute is a service," MacRunnels said. "It enables ISVs to offer their apps as a service. … Once these apps are there, thats when the users really get to engage."
Among the offerings are 100 free CPU hours on the grid for qualified developers who join the Sun Grid Developer Community, which offers developers collaborative development tools. Its run in conjunction with CollabNet, which makes solutions for software development in distributed environments.
In addition, Sun is setting up private project spaces for ISVs, where they can develop and port their applications to the grid, and the Compute Server Community Project, to enable developers to more easily use the grid to execute parallel computations in a utility computing environment.
Sun also has released the Grid Computer Server Plug-in for NetBeans IDE released under the Apache License Version 2.0.
Lastly, Sun is hosting a competition where developers can compete for $50,000 in prize money. The winners of the Sun Grid Compute Utility Cool Apps Prize for Innovation contest will be determined based on the software they develop on the grid, MacRunnels said. Sun is planning additional contests for later in the year, which will bring the total potential winnings to $100,000.