Sun's new Web 2.0 services -- Sun Live?

by Sid Steward

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Here's the press release. These offerings are a long way off from a web-based StarOffice suite.


Sun Microsystems Adds Two New Services to Sun Grid Utility, Easing Transition to Emerging Web 2.0

New Free Retail Services Convert Text to Podcasts and Proprietary Microsoft Word Documents to Open Document Format

Using the new Sun Grid service, virtually any consumer with a Web browser will be able to upload proprietary documents, and have them automatically converted to Open Document Format (ODF). The ODF is an XML-based industry standard file format specification for office productivity applications, including text, spreadsheet and graphical documents. ODF documents are readable by any ODF-enabled applications such as OpenOffice or StarOffice(TM), and provide an open, neutral format for users seeking to make content available to the broadest set of audiences, platforms and devices. ODF was recently adopted by the State of Massachusetts for government usage. The Sun Grid Utility service will help simplify the process of converting documents from Microsoft Office to free and open alternatives that radically lower cost, promote cross-platform communications and help users with older versions of Microsoft Windows avoid the costs and risks associated with deploying a newer release of Windows.

In addition, Sun expects to make available within the next 30 days a retail service that generates audio podcasts from any text based content, such as weblog or web site. Podcasts allow users to subscribe to audio content for playback at a later date, and provide those with visual impairments an opportunity to have the Internet "read" to them without human assistance.

Both services will be accessible through a simple web user interface -- documents or URL's will be submitted, as photos are submitted to photo sharing services, and converted on the network as .odf or .mp3 files, accessible via any browser or appropriate application, such as OpenOffice/StarOffice or Apple's iPod.

"It is clear a second generation of the web is emerging, with a broad array of on demand services available freely and ubiquitously, tied not simply to a web browser, but to any application or device that connects to the Internet," said Jonathan Schwartz, president and chief operating officer for Sun Microsystems. "Built atop Sun's core innovations, from our industry standard Sun Fire servers, to the fastest growing open source operating system, Solaris, the Sun Grid Utility will spare consumers and enterprises alike from having to build complex infrastructures that are better delivered via a centrally shared service. Innovation will be a core differentiator for Sun, and for Sun's customers, in taking advantage of this next generation web."

The first of the Sun Grid utility services, announced nearly a year ago, is a basic high performance computing facility, the retail release of which will mark the industry's first true on-demand computing utility. Unlike traditional "on demand" models, marked more by structured financing and datacenter inventory management than true "computing services" such as eBay or, Sun's Grid offering can spare customers the need to build, manage, provision or power their own computers and storage devices. For tasks as diverse as rendering movies, exploring for oil, or running complex spreadsheet calculations, high performance computing is one of the fastest growing market segments in the IT marketplace. Priced at $1 per CPU-hour(1), with no minimum commitment, the Sun Grid utility will provide supercomputing facilities, with no upfront investment, to users and applications alike.

Sun plans to work with the open source community to enhance the OpenOffice and StarOffice platforms to leverage these services as native features. With more than 50 million downloads around the world, OpenOffice and StarOffice are the most rapidly growing productivity suites on the Internet.

About Sun Grid Utility Services

Sun Grid helps customers and partners to derive immediate benefits from an open, grid-based computing infrastructure on a utility basis by giving them more choice and control over how they purchase and leverage IT. The Sun Grid offerings include the Sun Grid compute utility, a $1 (USD) per CPU per hour pay-per-use offering ($1/CPU-hour), and the Sun Grid storage utility.