Tapping Into Utility Computing

IBM, sun extend pay-as-you-go models.

IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. are expanding their respective utility computing efforts with hosted offerings that will enable users to remotely access computing power and pay only for resources they use.

IBM last week announced it is growing its on-demand server services, called Virtual Server Service, beyond Linux on its mainframe systems to encompass its line of eServers. Also last week, Sun announced a partnership with SchlumbergerSema to offer hosted utility computing capabilities to customers in the energy, finance, public-sector and telecommunications areas.

IBMs move will give enterprises access to their choice of the companys xSeries, iSeries and pSeries systems hosted by IBM in its Service Delivery Center, in Boulder, Colo. Customers will be able to access server processing, storage, caching and networking capacity without having to invest in the systems themselves, said Mike Riegel, manager of IBMs e-Business Hosting Services.

Instead, theyll be able to remotely access that capacity via hosted systems and pay only for what is used. Customers will be able to ramp up or dial down the amount of processing power or memory, depending on business demands.

"It gives them the up and down capability to give enterprises the flexibility they need," said Riegel, in Raleigh, N.C. "Its a real cost saver, and thats what customers need."

Riegel estimated that businesses can save 15 to 30 percent on IT costs by using Virtual Server Service.

IBMs xSeries systems are based on Intel Corp. technology and support Linux and Windows. The iSeries, powered by silicon-on-insulator and Power chips, supports OS/400 and Linux, and the pSeries, with Power processors, runs AIX and Linux.

In July of last year, IBM began offering similar services for Linux users on hosted zSeries mainframes.

Mobil Travel Guide LLC is taking advantage of Linux service on mainframes. Paul Mercurio, CIO for the Park Ridge, Ill., publishing company, said the hosted service gives Mobil Travel Guide access to computing power at a reasonable cost.

"We wanted to focus on our own business and grow without having to put a lot of capital back into traditional IT systems," Mercurio said. "The virtual server model gave us the opportunity to really grow without a lot of capital."

Mobil Travel Guide runs its Web-based operations and some database operations on a hosted mainframe, Mercurio said. Having the computing power has enabled the company to increase the number of guides it publishes from 10 to 32 without adding IT staff.

Meanwhile, Suns utility computing move expands its reach to new types of customers, thanks to a partnership with SchlumbergerSema, a business segment of Schlumberger Ltd.

Houston-based SchlumbergerSema will give customers remote access to Sun computing resources. As with the IBM offering, enterprises using this offering will be able to increase or decrease the amount of power they need and pay only for resources used.

Also included in the Sun offering is federated security via a Java Card identity badge and access to Sun support services.

SchlumbergerSema, which has five hosting centers around the world, has worked with Sun, of Palo Alto, Calif., for almost 20 years. The move to a utility computing model—where computing resources are sold like a utility, such as electricity, with billing based on usage—has evolved at the insistence of its customers, SchlumbergerSema officials said.

Just a few years ago, enterprises were eager to buy as much power as they could, with the idea of growing into the capacity. If they needed more power, they would buy it in increments of four CPUs, the officials said. However, the enterprises are now being more economical with IT spending and are seeking ways to make expenses dovetail with business demands.

Instant IT on the Fly

IBM on-demand plan goes beyond mainframes

  • Customers can remotely access hosted x-, i- and pSeries systems and pay only for the resources they use

Sun expands hosted options

  • Partners with SchlumbergerSema, offers hosted utility computing to energy, finance, public-sector and telecom organizations