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.
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.
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.
"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.