4 February 2005 Sun Microsystems is preparing to revolutionise the way enterprises pay for computational resources. The systems manufacturer announced plans this week to enable customers of its Sun Grid utility computing network to exchange CPU usage units as though on a futures market.
Sun is currently in talks with Archipelago Holdings, an electronic stock exchange equipment provider, to negotiate exactly how the platform would work but both companies have confidence in the concept.
“As the demand for computer power increases, we see great potential in building an exchange for trading CPU usage cycles,” said Steve Rubinow, CTO of Archipelago.
Sun announced earlier this week that an hour’s use of one processor on the Sun Grid will cost one dollar, making it the first utility computer provider to announce its tariffs. The company expects that the exchange, due to be in operation by the middle of the year, will let the market decide the price of computing power.
The establishment of a CPU usage market will enable businesses to acquire computer power on an ad-hoc basis, searching for the best deal when it is needed or stockpiling power when the price is cheap. For Sun, it is a way to dampen the effect of fluctuations in demand.
One problem Sun may experience is that its utility grid operates on the company’s own Solaris operating system, and this may not meet the requirements of many customers. If the trading platform is successful, however, Sun may completely change the way the enterprise thinks about its computing resources.