Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Commodity pricing

Sun's Grid is priced at $1 per CPU hour. So you might expect that you could run 60 jobs each taking a minute for $1 - right? Unfortunately, as Clint Combs discoverd, this would actually cost $60! Instead of adding up the aggregate CPU duration for the day/week/month, the system currently rounds each job up to the nearest hour (i.e. dollar).

This might sound unimportant, but it fundamentally changes the market of potential Sun Grid customers. For example, my Site Stats business generates between 500 and 1000 web traffic reports per day for customers. If I could submit them all to the Sun Grid for processing, and it took say 5 hours of CPU time then I would like to pay $5, rather than $1 per report - a whopping $500 to $1000! I believe my scenario is typical for thousands of other small businesses.

Sun are looking to change their grid pricing, so those Web 2.0 start-ups can run a much finer granularity of grid job over the network. Imagine if your electricity provider charged you 10c per KwH, with a minimum charge of 10c for every light you switched on. Now that wouldn't be commodity pricing would it? To really follow Jon Schwartz' electricity analogy, it's time to start billing for aggregate usage over a period of time.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I've always been a fan of good domain names, my favourite being I believe a well-chosen domain name says more than what it does - it somehow embodies the spirit of what it delivers. According to Jonathan Schwartz, Sun will imminently launch as its publically available Sun Grid utility. Wow! In 10 years, I expect to look back on this event as an epoch in the world of network computing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Having seen Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) version 10, I must say it looks much better than Sun's Java Desktop System. It comes with VBScript compatible Open Office, plug & play, bluetooth and wi-fi compatibility, and a Microsoft Windows Vista look-and-feel.

For me, this just adds yet another compelling reason to buy Novell. The company's market valuation is below $3BN, but since it has $1BN in the bank a purchase would really cost just $2BN. And what are the assets?

  1. SuSE Linux - the big prize
  2. Mono project - Microsoft integration
  3. IBM customers - a large market

Maybe $2BN nett is a large price to pay for SuSE linux, but Novell has done a poor job of promoting the popular Linux distribution against Red Hat - surely Sun could do better? And imagine running SuSE on all Sparc hardware? Now there's a market!