Sun's grid computing service goes global

Network.com utility computing service will be available to users in 23 countries across Europe and Asia

Sun Microsystems is expanding its Network.com utility computing service from the United States to 23 countries in Europe and Asia, the company said Thursday.

Utility computing, in which customers pay an hourly rate for access to a Sun datacenter, began as a U.S.-only pilot in March but is now ready for a large geographic expansion, said Rohit Valia, group product manager for the Sun Grid Compute Utility.

Sun charges $1 per CPU, per hour to access a network of Sun x64 hardware running the Solaris 10 operating system. End-users can now access the utility from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and other computer vendors provide similar utility services, also called on-demand computing or, more informally, computing "in the cloud." The services are for companies or other enterprises that have a short-term need for extra computing capacity but don't want to incur the expense of adding onto their own datacenters. They only have to build out their own capacity for an average level of usage, not the occasional peak usage, said Valia.

"Our business model is around charging for CPU cycles, not idle CPUs. We only charge when your CPU is actually processing data," he said.

Sun is also adding a feature called Network.com Internet Access so that Sun customers can interact, through Sun's utility datacenter to the Internet, with other companies that have resources the customer might want to use for a particular project. And Sun is also offering a limited beta program for developers called Job Management Application Programming Interfaces, which allows users to perform production scale tests to build software applications using Network.com.

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