Following my previous post about the Sun Grid I stub bled upon the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) – Limited Beta announcement. It appears that there is a commercial resurgence of time-sharing. IBM is in the mix and has launched e-business on demand as part of this offering they are providing free grid time to ISV.
The community grid concept works, the proof is in the SETI@home project. Today the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) provides the ability for users to join an open source grid community and offer cpu ticks to cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research.
If you found the Sun Grid and EC2 intersting, you’d probably like UtilityServe as well.
The model that’s emerging isn’t a rehash of the old time-share days (yes, I was around back then). Time-share came about because hardware was expensive. So expensive in fact that almost no one could afford it. What’s happening now is a realization that hardware no longer matters. Servers are dirt cheap, but they’re a pain in the butt. The ability to run complex apps and never have to think about the servers power the system is addictive.
Bert, thanks for the comment. I agree that the servers are dirt cheap but I think we are saying the same thing. The paradigm has shifted from high cost capex to high cost opex. The goal of time-share was to lower capex, what we are seeing now is a push to lower opex.