Sun looking to claim space in the cloud

Sun Microsystems jumped on the cloud computing bandwagon today with the announcement of its own platform for applications that run in the Internet cloud. The company is launching its effort with two products — Sun Cloud Services and Sun Cloud Compute Service.

With Amazon already an established leader, and with Google and Microsoft — plus many others — developing their own solutions, how does Sun plan to stand out? A big selling point will be the platform’s openness and interoperability, according to GigaOm’s Stacey Higginbotham. Customers should be able to move their data from one cloud to another as well as from the cloud to existing IT infrastructure. (Startup Elastra wants to enable similar portability in Amazon’s cloud.) Companies can control this process through Sun’s data center management software, which owes a lot to Sun’s acquisition of Q-layer earlier this year.

It’s still not clear how willing corporations and other big customers are to move their applications and data into the cloud, but the big tech players are all making it part of their strategy. In Sun’s case, the first two services should be available this summer, and it’s probably safe to assume the company will roll out other cloud services over time, much in the manner of Amazon Web Services. No specifics have been released about pricing.

Oh, and as important as this news is, it may be overshadowed by a report in today’s Wall Street Journal that IBM, aiming to increase its presence on the web, is in talks to purchase Sun. IBM could pay as much as $6.5 billion for the acquisition. (You must be a Journal subscriber to read the full article, but Bloomberg has a summary.)

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