Sun rises on Solaris 10

Sun yesterday announced the UK launch of its Solaris 10 operating system: the result of half a billion dollars and 3,000 man years of development.

It boasts more than 600 new features and runs on SPARC, x86, AMD64 and EM64 and EMT64 chip architectures, as well as more than 270 different hardware platforms.

Of the new features, most notable are the inclusion of DTrace, a diagnostic tool which allows the fine tuning of applications to speed up performance between three and 30 times.

There is also a container feature, where an instance of the operating system can be parcelled out into multiple discrete units in which applications can run without interfering with others. Sun estimates that operating systems currently run at about 20 per cent capacity by running all their applications in the same memory space. Using the container concept, an operating system can reach 80 per cent of its capacity.

And with the ability to run Linux applications natively, this means that you can have Linux and Unix apps running side by side in differenty containers on Solaris 10, both boosted with the DTrace utility.

The platform also uses a new 128bit ZFS file system that is certified for data integrity with 19 nines error detection and correction (five nines, or 99.999 per cent chance of detection and correction is the norm).

Sun has also integrated much of the security technologies developed in its trustedSolaris version, which is used by the US Department of Defence, offering Pentagon-level security to all Solaris 10 users.

Arlene Adams, Sun’s Product and Solutions director, Sun UK, said that Solaris 10 is all about innovation: ‘Our industry has spent too long fixing trying to solve problems and address customer complaints rather than innovating.’

Sun is also releasing Solaris 10 on a subscription model, with a right to use licence that is free. The company makes its money charging for services, so bug fixes for a year costs $120 on a single x86 CPU.

It is doing this to address the sway towards Linux. Adams said it was allow customers to make real comparisons about TCO and value for money. ‘It means they can make an apples for apples comparison and compare like for like.’

However, she also said that the move to subscriptions was an economically driven one: Sun expects to make more money by doing so.

Solaris 10 will be on general release from January, although some half a million downloads of the beta are already in use. The much awaited Open Source version is expected ‘in one to two months’ said a Sun exec.

One chip the platform will not be available for is Intel’s Itanium EPIC chip architectures. Adams described it as suffering from ‘slow take up’. ‘Customers aren’t going for it,’ she said. As a software company Sun has to place its bets and has chosen not back that particular horse and waste resources on it. ‘You can’t do everything if you want to do things well,’ she said.

One chip architecture Sun is far happier with is AMD’s 64bit Opteron chip, for which Solaris 10 is optimised. The chip has been a driving force behind sales of Sun’s low-cost x86 servers. One exec said that Sun’s share of AMD’s business has gone from ‘single digits’ to ‘high double digit’ figures.

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