If Sun builds it, will you come?

If Sun builds it, will you come?

Summary: In November, Sun announced--but didn't actually begin selling-- pay-as-you-go computing. Today, Sun is ramping up capacity and adding a high-end storage service costing $1 per gigabyte per month.

TOPICS: Oracle

In November, Sun announced--but didn't actually begin selling-- pay-as-you-go computing. Today, Sun is ramping up capacity and adding a high-end storage service costing $1 per gigabyte per month. To bolster its huge bet on utility computing, the company is building, for starters, a half dozen 5,000-CPU Sun Grid Centers. Crossing the chasm to utility computing requires an acknowledgement that lots of customization isn't needed, trust in the service provider, and trust that the pricing really is transparent. At first glance, Sun's transparent pricing for CPU cycles appears to be twice the price of IBM's. How transparent is that? We have a special report to cover all the action on today's announcements. Check out David's podcast interview with Sun President and COO Jonathan Schwartz....

Topic: Oracle

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  • Maybe

    I personally suspect Sun has a huge challenge here.

    Sun is known for sales to the enterprise. I don't think enterprises are the right market for a computing utility of the type Sun built.

    Instead, they should be targeting small businesses. But Sun has never known how to sell to small businesses.

    This disconnect between the offering and its market could easily prove fatal. I strongly suspect Sun will market directly to IBM's customer base, and the cost of prising any of those folks away will prove prohibitive.
    • Storage costs 50 cents per gigabyte to own

      Small businesses are more likely to go out and buy an $80 hard drive which stores 160 GBs of data rather than paying $160 per month indefinitely.

      From a performance perspective, having the drive local means you get to access it at around 400 gigabits per second with 0 ms delay. Having it in Sun's data center means that a small business will have 1.5 megabit per second access to it with an 80 ms delay.

      Is there something wrong with this picture?
      • I had the same thought, but....

        ...what about data that needs to be secured off-site? I know a small business that just lost a harddrive with all their tax data on it. I'm sure all the data was less than a gigabyte, so $12 a year for secure off-site storage would have been a good deal now that they are looking at a $1000 forensics recovery fee.

        Obviously, they should have been using tape-backup, but they weren't, and I suspect that there a great number of small businesses that don't understand tape technologies and off-site storage services. Utility storage would do better to market to these types of customers, I think.
      • Actually, storage costs 50cents per gigabyte to BUY

        ...which is not the cost of ownership, it's just the down payment.
        You also have to install it, format it, scrub it, house it, power it,
        air condition it, keep it free from viruses, back it up, replace it
        and/or restore it when something goes wrong, disaster-plan it,
        isolate it from single points of failure, etc. Oh yeah: you also
        have to forecast peak demand, and buy and ongoingly maintain
        enough to satisfy that peak demand.

        Any company, small or large, that has difficulties planning for
        the demand, or that has very seasonal or otherwise very bursty
        or periodic demand for computing power will find the utility
        model attractive, particularly as the cost comes down (as it will).
        I would also expect businesses (and academic institutions, and
        not-for-profits, etc.) that can make use of "off peak" excess
        capacity to negotiate discounted rates, just as we've traditionally
        seen in power, communication, and other utility models.
    • Targeting small business

      The problem with targeting small businesses today is that the Sun Grid is designed for compute-intensive apps--rendering, simulations, life sciences, etc. Applications that small business use have to be revised to work on a standard grid infrastructure...which is down the road. For software-as-a-service, hosted apps like Salesforce.com, customers have dedicated systems, and in the case of salesforce using lots of Sun equipment for its infrastructure. Eventually grids will be more common and apps tuned to take advantage of grid server farms that dynamically allocate resources and fail in place...