Monday, May 12, 2008

Project Caroline: "Sweet" project, or Sun's savior?

A few days ago there was significant coverage of Project Caroline, Sun's new open source cloud computing platform and service offering. While seemingly taking a page directly out of Google's play book, Caroline is actually interesting for a few key differences (adapted from Rich Zippel's blog):

  • It is an open source research project, not an actual product offering at this time. This means Sun's services are offered for free. Of course, there is one catch with regards to the Sun offering: you must have a Grid account, and you will be charged for resources used on that grid.

  • The source code for the entire stack is freely available today. Not just the programming APIs, as in Google's case, but the entire stack. If you are comfortable using Glassfish, Postgres, and "limiting" languages to Java, Perl, Python, Ruby, and PHP, you can start your own Caroline-compatible cloud computing company today. Just remember, its a research project, so all of this is subject to change.

  • In some ways, this is what you would expect from Sun: an engineering research project touted as the future of computing. No charge for the software, etc, but note that Sun can actually monitize this through the Grid-hosted offering.

I still hold some Sun stock, so I'm actually a little excited about the possibility that there may be an actual new revenue stream here. Could you imagine, Sun actually branching out from pure hardware? The timing is good too, as they may have a better prescription than their more successful competitors, at a time when sales to corporate data centers may be hitting their peak. If handled well (which is a big "if" with Sun), this could guarantee a growing revenue stream for decades to come, even if corporate IT nearly stops buying servers.

I haven't played with Caroline yet, but I think Sun is at least marketing the platform I hoped that Google, or Microsoft, or Adobe, or someone out there would have built. Yeah, its Sun, so its probably a computer science dissertation project to configure and manage the thing, but who else is doing five languages on industry standard infrastructure with RDBMS support?

I'm hoping to get around to evaluating this in some detail in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

4 comments:

Mark Hodapp said...

James,

Thanks for your interest in Project Caroline. I would encourage you to consider doing the investigation that you've outlined in your post. Take a look at the Application Idea Incubator at: https://www.projectcaroline.net/main/index.php?q=node/160 for more information. During this research, we are not charging for grid resource usage for these applications.

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