Sun executive vice president and chief technology officer Greg Papadopoulos presented N1 as a multifaceted network operating system that could link resources such as computing cycles and storage.
He stressed that computing is moving to a new paradigm in which the network is a single computing resource, and that. N1 would provide the technology to enable the next paradigm. "The key piece of technology here [with N1] is writing an operating system for the network"
Papadopoulos declined to offer specific product details, saying merely that Sun would launch systems to bring about N1.
The paradigm shift is much greater than a single CPU platform such as Intel, or an operating system such as Linux, Papadopoulos said. "Sparc, Intel, Linux, Solaris - those are all component discussions and it's missing the big picture [to focus just on these].
"The software shift is much more about what are developers trying to write to and they're not trying to write to the machine, they're trying to write to the network."
In Papadopoulos' vision, which was reminiscent of the Novell Embedded Systems Technology proposal of the 1990s, in which virtually everything - including light bulbs - would have network connections.
N1 will provide for virtualisation of resources within that massive computing network, scaling to co-ordinate resources of thousands of systems. Papadopoulus said Sun was "building systems that scale in capacity without scaling in complexity at the same rate".
While N1 is focused on IT administration and deploying and managing resources, Sun's One software development platform complements N1 by simplifying application development. Sun's JXTA peer-to-peer and Jini networking technologies also are expected to play roles in Sun's network plan.
Other elements of Papadopoulos' network computing plan include Web services and grid computing.