The Network is the Computer?
…My once favourite company seems to be finding its feet again. Or so one hopes. Jonathan Schwarz writes about Sun Microsystem’s rollout of its self-hosted Public, multi-tenant grid. To quote
Next week, we’re going to prove the point by unveiling the world’s first on demand supercomputer. And by on demand, I mean accessible through your browser, with a credit card. This isn’t yesterday’s definition of On Demand, involving custom financing contracts, prepositioned inventory and a sales rep in a crisp blue suit ready to negotiate. Nope, our definition is just like eBay’s: you bring a browser and a credit card, we offer the service. No fuss, no muss. We believe the simplicity, accessibility and affordability of this service changes the face of computing for all organizations, large and small, public or private.
…But behind the corporate firewall, the transformation toward multi-tenant grids has been slower. Frankly, it’s been tough to convince the largest enterprises that a public grid represents an attractive future. Just as I’m sure George Westinghouse was confounded by the Chief Electricity Officers of the time that resisted buying power from a grid, rather than building their own internal utilities. But that’s not to suggest it hasn’t been happening in the business world.
Witness the meteoric rise of Salesforce.com – or RightNow, or PayPal – or any of a number of other services designed to replace traditional infrastructure behind the corporate firewall. Smaller businesses especially have flocked to the grid to spare themselves the headaches of architecting and owning their own datacenters.
But larger enterprises have been tougher to convince. As an example, for the past 15 months, we’ve been negotiating with one financial institution interested in leveraging our grid for spike loads of portfolio simulations. When their procurement team held up the contract to start negotiating the gauge of chain link we’d use around the grid, and which vendors were approved to supply network cables, we gingerly passed them back to our traditional sales channels – this was clearly a customer that would prefer to build their own infrastructure (can you imagine arguing with PayPal over chain link?). So be it, that’s where most IT is purchased today, and will likely be purchased for decades to come.
Sounds quite neat. Don’t see how it’s going to help their bottomline though, in the near, or for that matter, the forseeable future. Oh well…As an aside, Sun now owns the “network.com” domain, which I think is quite just and right.
All I can say is “Good luck, folks”.