Sun takes Grid international

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Sun takes Grid international

Network.com heading for Asia and Europe.

Sun Microsystems has expanded its Network.com grid computing offering to 23 counties in Asia and Europe, including the UK. 

Network.com allows users to perform compute intensive tasks over the internet on a network of roughly 1,000 AMD Opteron servers at a rate of US$1 per CPU hour. The company will charge the local equivalent of that fee in the new regions. 

Sun also unveiled a limited beta of an API that allows developers to tap directly into the computing grid. A video editing application, for instance, can allow users to render films on the grid.

Users are currently required to submit tasks manually through the Network.com website, and have to retrieve the data from the site.

Sun has also opened up internet access that enables applications to fetch additional data from the internet as tasks are being performed.

A biotechnology modelling application, for example, can reach out to a genomic sequence directly from the Sun grid. The application would previously have had to fetch the data before the task was submitted to the grid.

The addition of the internet access and the API allow the Sun Grid to be rolled out into production environments, according to Rohid Valia, group product manager for Sun Grid.

"With the availability of the API and internet access [users] can truly use it in a production setting. Over the course of the past year, people have been trying it out," Valia told VNU.

"Now they can tie it into their data centre operations and rely on it as a source for their peak capacity."

Sun first unveiled its grid in February 2005, but the retail launch was plagued with delays and did not take place until March 2006. The company promised UK availability by September, but missed that deadline by eight months. 

Sun blamed the delay in part on security concerns. US legislation prohibits vendors from exporting sensitive technology to rogue nations such as North Korea, and Sun had to ensure that such nations would not be able to tap into the grid offering.

Amazon offers a similar service with its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), a service through which the online merchant and web services provider rents out servers over the internet.

Sun's service primarily targets high performance computing applications, while Amazon is marketing its EC2 as a way for web start-ups to avoid having to build a computer network.
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