Sun Forms Another Utility Computing Alliance

CGI Group will pay for Sun computing resources-from servers and storage to software and networking devices-on a per-use basis.

Sun Microsystems Inc. has signed up another partner in its utility computing strategy, joining with CGI Group Inc. in offering hosted on-demand computing to life sciences customers.

In the alliance announced on Tuesday, CGI, of Montreal, will pay for Sun computing resources—from servers and storage to software and networking devices—on a per-use basis, said Ashif Dhanani, director of market development for utility computing for Sun. In turn, CGI, which will house the Sun resources in its Life Sciences Solution Center hosting facility in Montreal, will bundle its applications on top of those resources and offer them to their customers with billing based on usage. CGI, which will expand its offerings beyond life sciences—to include such industries as telecommunications, financial services and manufacturing—also will be able to add such services as security and business processes on top of the Sun infrastructure.

CGI already has deployed this system for genomics and proteomics investment company Genome Quebec.

Dhanani said the alliance follows through on many of the promises of utility computing: giving customers access to large amounts of computing power without them having to make the up-front investment in the resources themselves. It also is important to companies working in such areas as genomics and pharmaceuticals, which can see demand for computing power rise and fall depending on the projects theyre working on.

"If a customer had to do this [buying and setting up a data center with this amount of computing power] themselves, they would have to pay for the large computers, and all of about 20 percent of it would be used," he said.

With utility computing—where computing resources are delivered like a utility, such as electricity—customers pay only for what they use.

The CGI partnership is the third such utility computing alliance announced by Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., in less than two months. On Sept. 10, Sun announced a similar partnership with Dallas-based systems integrator Affiliated Computer Services Inc., which extended utility computing to ACS clients. That deal included cost-reduction guarantees for ACS clients who enter long-term deals and promises from Sun and ACS to refresh the computing equipment.

On Oct. 1, Sun announced a deal with SchlumbergerSema, a business segment of Schlumberger Ltd., to give customers in the energy, finance, public sector and telecommunications industries remote access to Sun computing resources housed by SchlumbergerSema, which has five hosting facilities around the world. Officials with SchlumbergerSema, of Houston, said the utility computing partnership came at the insistence of customers, who wanted a more flexible and economical outsourcing plan.