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Sun revives SSP model... are they mad?

Apparently Sun Microsystems Inc. already has customers for its new utility storage service...

"Financial services firms are using it: We have press releases under escrow to make sure they are successful with it first," says Dan Hushon, chief technologist for Sun's grid strategy, announced this week.

Under escrow! Sounds promising?

Here's the deal. Sun is taking another stab at the storage service provider model that went belly-up at the end of the dot-com boom -- not because people didn't have any money to spend but because the model stunk. Users did not want third parties housing their precious data. First of all there's the security issue, and second, if I outsource all my data, what happens to my job!?

Hushon claims this new service is different. It's not designed around long-term storage, quite the opposite -- it's a temporary thing. Users set up projects on the grid, for which Sun provides "fully isolated storage containers." Possible projects might include an oil and gas company looking to run a seismic simulation on several thousand gigabytes of data or a developer project that requires a giant shared file system. Financial service firms might use it to crunch routines against their portfolios.

Sun is charging $1 per gigabyte per month that includes the assets on the floor and the bandwidth at Sun's end, but not the bandwidth costs of the customer. Here's a thought on that. How are you doing to get these exceedingly large data sets over the wire to Sun's utility? Sounds like it will suck up the pipe.

Hushon says he expects partners to come up with services that will overlay Sun's utility. "We are investigating everything from encrypting data and putting it onto a truck? We're not ready to take on large data sets, if you want the car the car is black, we're trying to drive standardization within the infrastructure and partners will sit on top of the dollar per gigabyte model to deal with specific customer demands," he says.

A word on the security. What happens when your project is finished? Sun claims each customer's data is totally isolated as the facility makes use of its 6920 platform that allows for virtualized volumes for individual users. Hushon says Sun will scrub the disks or send the data to a disaster recovery site if required. "We are contractually bound to scrub the disks...I don't know at this point what the verification steps can be but we have new software that allows for robust cleansing, but I don't know how you would independently verify that."

It sounds like Sun will have some teething issues with this one, but we'll see. Drop me a line to share your thoughts.

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