Sun recently announced
international expansion of the Sun Grid Compute
Utility available from Network.com
We sat down with Rohit Valia of the Network.com team to discuss this
important pay-per-use utility offering from Sun.
On The Record (OTR): How does Sun
define Grid computing?
Rohit Valia (RV):
computing provides a horizontally scaled
infrastructure that matches pools of resources against applications
requesting access to those resources in an automated manner. It allows
these applications to take advantage of multiple compute resources to
perform the tasks faster while at the same time increasing the accuracy
and quality of the results.
OTR: How long did it take Sun to
get the Grid to market? What's
the core technology at the heart of the network?
Building a public Grid
compute facility required bringing together
a lot of moving parts. These parts ranged from creating data
center operations to building a security architecture all the way to
scaling to a multi-tenet model to ensure we meet with all regulations
related to the business. The team did an incredible job launching the
service in about a year. The core technology manages the complexity of
putting together a system with so many moving parts to allow self
service by users and have the experience be completely automated.
OTR: What innovative things are
customers doing with the Sun Grid?
Customers are leveraging
the network.com infrastructure for a
variety of tasks ranging from uses in Life Sciences in drug discovery
research to generating fractals for recreational art. Since the launch
of the Sun
Grid Developer Kit
, users are now able to develop
applications in the NetBeans IDE
and send the application and data for
processing to the Grid from within the Development IDE.
OTR: How is the application catalog
being used by customers?
The Sun Grid Application
provides a simple model for end
users to leverage pre-configured, pre-tested applications. Users can
upload their data and use the published applications to run against
their data. We have published a couple of dozen applications and are
constantly working with open source communities and partners to add
more. Applications are available in many different categories including
and Computational Mathematics
. There are
even applications that can do computer animations and electronic design
verification, which are all compute intensive tasks.
OTR: Do I need to use Solaris on
the Grid? Or can I use other
As an application catalog,
all the users need to bring is data. In
that context it is not relevant which OS is serving the application.
However, the infrastructure is powered by the industry leading Solaris
operating system and developers of applications need to run
OTR: What kind of ROI can a Grid
computing user expect to see?
The ROI depends on the
value of time to market for them and the
level of resources available. For example, a job that runs for a 1,000
minutes on 100 nodes is billed at only $17. The job would be completed
in only 10 minutes assuming it is a perfectly parallel task.
Compare that to running the same job on a single machine, and it
would run for approximately 17 hours. The main ROI is the value of
getting back the results in 10 minutes versus about 17 hours.
OTR: What's next in the world of
This question is best
answered by looking at which industry or task
is going to adopt HPC next. To show you how far-reaching the
technology is, just the other day we were talking to a company that
makes potato chips using simulations to see how a potato chip would fly
through the oven to reduce breakage while baking them. The sky really
is the limit where HPC is applicable.
OTR: What are Sun's future plans
for the Grid?
specifically, it's the expansion of both
capabilities and geographies served. The goal is to enable all
developers to be able to leverage the infrastructure for all reasons
for which they use their current infrastructure. The Grid service would
ease their pain so they don't have to deal with the issues related to