No sign of Sun's grid yet in Asia

Its public grid is due to go live in the U.S. by end-April, but Sun is still demurring over when Asia would be able to access the service.
Written by Jeanne Lim, Contributor

SINGAPORE--When will Asia catch its first glimpse of Sun Microsystems' much-touted public grid? The answer is still shrouded in a haze, even as Sun stumbles over efforts to commercially launch the grid in the United States.

Simon See, technical director and chief technologist at Sun's global science and technology network division, told ZDNet Asia that Sun is "still exploring" where it should set up the facility to support the Sun Grid service in Asia.

The Sun Grid is a computing utility service, which allows customers to plug into computing resources at US$1 per CPU hour simply by accessing a Web portal. It is currently available as a limited service, and only upon request.

Examples of applications that can take advantage of this service include batch workloads such as Monte Carlo simulations, protein modeling, geologic exploration and mechanical CAD simulations.

"[The availability of the grid here] should be very soon as Asia is a large market," said See, adding that the launch of the grid is also dependent on how soon Sun finds suitable "business and technology" partners to make the grid work in the region.

See declined to comment on which specific partners Sun is working with in Asia, except that it is "actively working with various government agencies, a number of top research institutions and universities to conduct research" on related technologies.

Once the grid is available, users in Asia "can simply log into the portal, provide the information as to what resources are required, provide a credit card number, and they can use the resources", said See. "The charges will go to the credit card through Paypal, and [the cost] that depends on how much resources are being consumed."

Earlier news reports have stated that Sun is facing problems setting up the grid, which the company has talked about on more than one occasion but has yet to make the infrastructure publicly available.

Stuart Wells, executive vice president at Sun's utility computing division, told ZDNet Asia in an interview last month that the Sun Grid is due to go live in the United States latest by end-April this year, followed by a U.K. launch soon after, and in Asia thereafter.

But Sun could be facing difficulties in launching the grid publicly because of technical complexities. See said: "The infrastructure is very complex technically because we have to deal with multi-tenancy, and security is a big, major concern."

Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos has also earlier admitted that building the grid has been "a lot harder" than the company initially envisioned.

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