Sun steps into the cloud-computing fray

The company has launched its own cloud platform and services, in a move designed to challenge market leaders such as Amazon
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

Sun has launched the Sun Open Cloud platform, in a bid to gain a place in the growing cloud-computing market and challenge companies such as Amazon.

The cloud platform, which was launched on Wednesday, is based on Sun's own technologies, including Java, MySQL, Open Solaris and Open Storage, the company said in a statement.

As part of the strategy, Sun announced the release of a core set of its own open application programming interfaces (APIs), which it has offered up for public review and comments in an effort to encourage other companies to use them. The Cloud API specifications are published under the Creative Commons licence, to allow other organisations and individuals to use them freely, Sun said in a statement.

Sun also said it was encouraging developers to deploy their own Sun Open Cloud applications as virtual machine images (VMIs) of Sun software. By using this method, companies could avoid having to configure and install their own infrastructure software, the company said.

According to Dave Douglas, Sun's senior vice president for cloud computing, the company's approach to cloud computing differs from that of other companies because "it blends [Sun's] expertise in developing open-source software and communities with unique design innovation".

Sun's approach to cloud computing is bacsed on the company's fundamental values, said Douglas, which means it is "both open and interoperable". Douglas added that Open Cloud would give developers expanded interoperability and freedom of choice when developing cloud applications.

Sun Open Cloud will comprise Cloud Storage Service and Cloud Compute Service, among other elements. The Compute Service has the virtual datacentre (VDC) capabilities that Sun gained when it acquired Q-layer in January 2009, the company said. These will "provide everything an individual or team of developers needs to build and operate a cloud datacentre", Sun said.

The VDC capabilities will give a "unified, integrated interface to stage an application running on any operating system within a cloud, including OpenSolaris, Linux or Windows," Sun said. It has drag-and-drop features for device allocation and will also use APIs and a command-line interface in the provisioning process for storage and network resources.

Sun Cloud Storage supports the WebDAV protocols for file access and object store APIs, but is also compatible with Amazon's S3 APIs. Sun's Cloud Storage Service has some characteristics in common with Amazon's S3 product.

The core services will be available "in the summer", Sun said in its statement.

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