Solaris 10 garners positive reviews

Sun this week is expected to unveil Solaris 10, the most significant update to its flagship Unix operating system in two-and-a-half years. Sun also will introduce new storage products.

Sun this week is expected to unveil Solaris 10, the most significant update to its flagship Unix operating system in two-and-a-half years. Sun also will introduce new storage products.

The new Solaris will feature improved multithreading capabilities and a new TCP/IP stack, dubbed project FireEngine, that is expected to increase network performance by as much as 45%, Sun says. Solaris now will be able to run Linux applications without modification, and will include a new error detection system and diagnostic tool known as DTrace.

"Overall, Solaris 10 is a very significant release that has more features that are both visible and meaningful to users than any other recent Unix releases I can think of," says Gordon Haff, senior analyst at Illuminata.

The most important new feature of Solaris 10, Haff says, will be its use of containers, which let users create up to 4,000 secure fault-isolated partitions on a server.

"Sun was the great proponent of heavyweight physical partitions - and routinely criticized IBM and VMware for trotting out software-based approaches like logical partitioning," he says.

Sun has changed its approach because it did not fit in with the company's new focus on low-end x86-based Opteron servers, Haff says. The hardware-based partitioning Sun touted typically is reserved for servers with more than eight processors, he says.

"Containers are by far the best feature of Solaris 10," says Rodrick Brown, systems architect for the city of New York department of IT and telecommunications. "Currently we tend to procure new hardware for new projects even though we have tons of capacity that could be leverged on exisiting hardware. Containers will give us that logical separation that will enable us to mix different types of applications on the same physical hardware and not have to worry about applications conflicting with each other."

One major feature that won't make it into this release is ZFS, a highly scalable file system that can be used for virtualized storage and expand it into the exabyte realm. ZFS is expected to be included in a January release.

Sun is not expected this week to release the much-anticipated open source version of Solaris.

However, the company is expected to begin offering Solaris on an annual subscription basis.

Sun also is enhancing its StorEdge 5310 NAS Appliance, which scales to 16T bytes and has dual controllers for extra performance and availability. It supports the Unix/Linux Network File System and the Windows Common Internet File System, and remote monitoring and clustering. It also features Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) drives or Fibre Channel drives.

The company also is introducing the StorEdge 6130 Array, a Fibre Channel storage system designed for data from ERP, database or e-mail applications. The 6130 features snapshot backup and volume copy capability. It scales to more than 41T bytes and also uses Serial ATA drives.

Sun is expected to announce the StorEdge Compliance Archiving Software, which businesses can use to archive, protect and retrieve fixed content information on the StorEdge 5310 NAS Appliance. The software lets that data be migrated between expensive Fibre Channel drives and less expensive Serial ATA drives as it becomes less important.

The company also is rolling out the StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager Advanced Applications software, which provides a platform for IT to manage and monitor heterogeneous storage environments. The software helps eliminate manual processes.

McMillan is a correspondent with IDG News Service.

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