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Countdown to Solaris 10 Begins

Sun Microsystems is expected to formally debut Solaris 10 as the cornerstone of its software vision when it kicks off its "Take Back Wall Street" crusade in New York.

The operating system, designed for use in Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processor-based servers, has been available in bits and pieces during the course of the year, courtesy of Sun's Software Express. Customers have already downloaded 500 million preview versions, but the company said the New York event will be their first opportunity to see the full version in action.

"With so many customers and partners now test driving the Solaris 10 OS, we are committed to delivering the programs, services and resources they need to ensure a smooth and successful transition into production environments once we flip the switch on the final release," John Loiacono, executive vice president of software at Sun, said in a statement.

Inside Solaris

Among the features in the next-generation OS include the so-called "big five." Solaris 10 include N1 Grid Containers, a partitioning technology; DTrace, a diagnostic tool for system administrators; Predictive Self Healing; Crypto Infrastructure; and ZFS (Zettabyte File System), which gets its roots from the classic POSIX-compliant Unix file system.

Each feature is designed to augment the base operating system and make it either easier or faster to operate. For example, DTrace comprises three main parts: a set of at least 25,000 dynamic probes in the software; a framework that activates and deactivates those probes and gathers information from them; and a simple C-like scripting language (called "D") that is used to control and automate the collection and enable the display of the system data.

In addition to the "big five," Sun has included "Clustrex," a single-node restart as standard; "FMA/Greenline" self-healing and fault management; InfiniBand support; "Atomic Operations," a set of tools or programming libraries; BART (Basic Audit and reporting Tool), which is like a "lite" version of Tripwire; more advanced NUMA optimizations; and more security/authentication features.

In Support of Solaris

During the next 90 days, Sun said it would release a number of new technologies, migration tools and support programs for Solaris 10.

Sun Studio 10, which is expected in the coming quarter, works with AMD Opteron and Intel Nocona processor-based systems to run 64-bit applications.

Sun also has created the Solaris Developer Collection, an information and support program to accelerate developer adoption of the OS.

Sun Cluster Oracle RAC SVM Edition, which the company integrated with the Solaris Volume Manager, will also see light in the coming months. The software is Sun-compatible for Oracle9i RAC deployments, enabling significantly higher availability with reduced cost.

The company will include its Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition 5 (code named Project Tiger) in Solaris 10. Analysts say the addition is the most significant upgrade to the Java platform and programming language since it debuted nearly 10 years ago. Sun said J2SE 5 would be generally available via Software Express in the next 30 days.

Recently, Sun added an early Linux version to Solaris 10 called Project Janus. It lets customers run Linux binary applications unmodified and un-recompiled on Solaris without having to acquire extra x86-based hardware.

Sun has said it would eventually open the source code of most, if not all, of Solaris as a way to entice third-party developers and to commoditize the OS in a way that puts Sun's competition in a tight spot.

"There's lots of promise here for many types of customers," said Michael Dortch, principal business analyst and editorial director at IT research firm Robert Frances Group. "The challenge for Sun is to deliver on the promise by surrounding these offerings with effective sales, service and support.

"Enterprise IT executives, especially those in industries and at companies where Sun has been losing market share, need all the help Sun can provide to convince their colleagues that the company is as safe and sure a bet as many of its technologies appear to be. High-quality services and support, proven reference architectures, and sales forces that can cash the checks being written by mouthpieces at headquarters are all essential elements of this grand effort."

Extending Sun's Reach

One of the places Sun is looking to make the most traction is with the x86 version of Solaris. In a separate statement Tuesday, the company said it has more than 1,000 software and hardware products currently available from more than 700 of its business application software partners.

Sun also launched a corresponding iForce Partner Program for Solaris 10. The early adoption program allows ISVs, IHVs and development partners the opportunity to adopt the newest Solaris features and technologies. More than 120 of the most popular business application software partners have begun preparing and testing their applications to support Solaris 10.

To help prime the pump, Sun has also added 15 new financial services application software partners to the Solaris ecosystem, including BMC Software, EMC Legato Software, Hyperion Solutions, Rogue Wave Software and Stellent.

"I've said it before: The operating system is irrelevant if it lacks world-class ISV support," said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun president and COO. "And a server without that OS is a doorstop. Unlike some of our competitors, Sun is making it easy for ISVs to qualify for our systems. We're making every business-critical application our customers need available for Solaris AMD Opteron processor-based systems so that customers benefit from the broadest possible range of choices."