The name game
The rush to establish mindshare – and early market leadership – in utility computing has had vendors, analysts and consultants scrambling to establish their unique definition of the revolutionary approach.
After pioneering grid computing and autonomic computing, IBM has chosen to focus on the business deliverables by grouping together its initiatives under the concept of ‘E-business on demand’.
Perhaps its reticence to embrace the utility term stems from the fact that Hewlett-Packard was the first entrant in the market with its Utility Data Center product in 2001 and has tried to take ownership of the utility computing catch line ever since.
In comparison, Sun Microsystems seems to want to cover all bases, saying its N1 architecture is "an extension of both the grid and utility models. Sun itself sells a Grid Engine, but has yet to coin a label for what N1 is, although it has been flirting with "Just-in-time computing".
Several analyst groups want to go even further. Forrester Research, for example, refers to the new architecture as Fabric-Based Computing. It defines that as "a computing model that provides utility-like processing power on demand using a non-proprietary high-speed network", putting great emphasis on the construction of a fast network backbone for moving application modules and data around.
Outdoing everyone in its contrariness, though, is analyst group IDC, which refers to the new approach to IT delivery as ‘computing utility services’.
What the suppliers say
"With utility computing, we are building computers out of the network. The hardware is easy; the hardest part is systems software and virtualisation."
Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy
"[We are making] a $10 billion bet, to put all of these things together to make on-demand e-business a reality. A bold bet, yes. A risky bet? I don’t think so."
CEO IBM Sam Palmisano
What the analysts say
"To combat spiralling IT complexity, data centres will be transformed into networked utilities."
Galen Schreck, Forrester Research