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Sun's Schwartz lukewarm on Carr's latest

You might think that Sun Microsystems President Jonathan Schwartz is in violent agreement with Nicholas Carr's latest piece, "The End of Corporate Computing."

After all, Carr, the writer who raised hackles two years ago with his "IT Doesn't Matter" article, argues that today's computing business is like the nascent electricity industry--a favorite topic of Schwartz's.

Carr predicts the emergence of IT utilities, companies that provide the raw computing horsepower, applications, and bandwidth to supply hosted technology services.

Having each company build and maintain its own data center is wasteful and ultimately untenable, he claims. Today's data centers are the direct-current central stations of a century ago, doomed to be replaced by a centralized system that can deliver computing resources over the network in a more efficient and flexible manner.

"Not even the introduction of the personal computer or the opening of the Internet will match the upheaval that lies just over the horizon," Carr states.

At first blush, it would seem that Sun's on board with Carr's basic thesis. The company's Sun Grid service offers hosted computing on a flat-fee basis--$1 per CPU per hour--sort of like utilities.

But Schwartz doesnÂ’t appear enthused by Carr's latest.

"Nick missed (as I pointed out to him when I reviewed an early draft) the one fundamental point, that the concept of utility is predicated upon common platform multi-tenancy," Schwartz told CNET

In other words, utility computing services require standardization, something that doesn't exist widely right now. Custom business applications that run in-house are configured for very specific hardware and software combinations. For utility computing to take off, business applications will need to be designed and tested to run on a standardized grid, he says.

"He's just continuing to (try to) be inflammatory--it's not the end of corporate computing, it's the rise of network services, one of which happens to be corporate computing," Schwartz concludes.