Feeds

Sun closes 'future' pay-per-use utility computing service

From flagship to flag maker

Boost IT visibility and business value

Sun Microsystems has killed its once high-profile utility computing experiment, Network.com, which let customers buy computing power by the hour.

The company revealed it's no longer accepting new customers after four years, saying parts of the business and technology model "were not in the sweet spot". The 13 customers and 48 applications using Network.com are will be offered continued service.

Utility computing was one of chief executive Jonathan Schwartz's personal causes here and here, and a path to new revenue for Sun. The idea of Network.com was to let customers rent Sun's computing power instead of buying their own expensive servers or expand their data center capacity.

It worked on paper, not in practice.

The service struggled to attract customers and lately was starting to look dated, serving as a place for the likes of film giant Pixar to dump huge rendering jobs, but not suited to the needs of start-ups and individuals wanting lightweight hosting and RESTful hosting and provisioning. These customers are moving to Amazon Web Services, instead.

Sun's Network.com page

The future ain't what it used to be: Sun's utility computing service is closed

Dave Douglas, senior vice president of cloud computing and developer platforms group, said a replacement service is planned but was unwilling to divulge any details. He revealed the closure to press and analysts in San Francisco, while outlining Sun's cloud strategy. Douglas' cloud and developer group has taken on new significance following a re-organization that folded in development of Sun's software products.

Reading between the lines, it seems Sun will now evangelize clouds and provide its own hardware and software with a view to running customers' clouds. "We will have a grid going forward," Douglas said. "It may just not look like the old one." He added that Sun might run its own branded cloud services in some cases.

A typical example could see Sun build a Memcached distributed memory caching system using Sun's MySQL for a customer, and then possibly running it, Douglas said. MySQL customers using Memcached today include YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia.

Sun cloud computing group chief technology officer Lew Tucker - who helped build Salesforce.com's AppExchange while on a hiatus from Sun - rounded up the hardware and software Sun plans to promote among customers and partners. These span OpenSolaris, xVM, Virtual Box, Crossbow, MySQL Glassfish, Sun Intel and Sparc servers and blades. Also in the mix are Sun's Open Storage, Sun's 70000 storage units, xVM Operations Center and OpenID.

Existing enterprise customers are likely to be Sun's best bet. For all Sun's talk of clouds, the sad fact is that Amazon, Google and Salesforce.com - those owning the mindshare - are not using Sun equipment. They are running a mix of Linux on Intel servers - which Sun can provide, but are - clearly - no Sun's crown jewels of Solaris and Sparc servers.

Tucker said he believed Sun could find a market by having Linux run on top of the xVM or by building out a virtualized network using the Crossbow network virtualization and resource control systems in Solaris and OpenSolaris.

"With Solaris virtualization you can run Linux fine as a guest on the hypervisor," Tucker said. "You can use Solaris to run the data center... virtualization technology brings new life as to why you want Solaris. It's like the old mainframe days." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.