RealTime IT News

Solaris Flares Out Beyond SPARC

Sun Microsystems Wednesday unveiled "significant updates" to its standard and "military grade" Trusted Solaris operating system (OS).

As part of its quarterly announcements about new systems products, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker said the improvements to its OS offer 20 to 47 percent better networking performance than previous versions. Sun also announced plans for a fifth update to the Solaris 9 operating system for both SPARC and x86 platforms.

Available now, the fifth update includes secure provisioning and booting, and change management via the Internet. Sun said the release also blends in Sun's Java Application Server 7 with the Solaris OS x86 and SPARC. It includes the lastest Java Virtual Machine, J2SE 1.4.2. Sun also announced Trusted Solaris for the SPARC and x86 platform, which includes support for additional Sun hardware such as the low-cost Sun Fire V60x and V65x systems, and the Sun Fire V250 and V440 SPARC systems.

Despite its late entry into the x86 marketplace, Sun said its Solaris OS for both Intel and AMD chips is gaining momentum. The company boasts more than 375,000 registered licenses since January 2003. Recently Sun partnered with AMD to deliver Solaris OS support and optimization for AMD's 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. Sun already has an existing relationship with Intel for many of its low-cost servers.

As part of the upgrades, Sun added support in Solaris for the Streaming Instruction set (SSE2 and hyperthreading). The company said the technology upgrades should help improve video and audio streaming performance over previously versions.

Sun is also addressing security issues by applying the higher security protection of role based access controls and privileges within the OS. With its systems in place, Sun said system administrators could cut down on the risk of viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other malicious code.

Similarly, Sun said its revised Network File System version 4 (NFS v.4) extends the benefits of file sharing by enabling secure access to files across the Internet. The Solaris OS implementation has a stronger security negotiation mechanism, enhanced extensibility capabilities and cross platform interoperability over previous versions of Solaris.

For the more advanced system administrators, Sun is releasing DTrace. The new tool tracks and logs critical system and software activity in the background and on demand. Sun said the software has the ability to dynamically "trace" every system process allows system administrators and developers to identify the bottlenecks in production systems and/or software applications.

Most of the next-generation features are no secret to Sun worshipers. The company has been incrementally releasing the applications through its monthly Sun Software Express program.

In related news Sun is again taking advantage of rival Hewlett-Packard's choice to end its UNIX-based Alpha Tru 64 systems and a delay in shipping HP-UX11i v.3. Earlier this year, Sun drew first blood with its "HP Away" campaign. The company followed up Wednesday with a new Sun Migration Reference Architecture for Tru64 systems, and Web Application Firewall, Supply Chain Management, Secure Web Server, and Enhanced Communications Services Reference Architectures. Sun is making the upgrades available to customers at no additional charge.

The improvements are expected to augment core Reference Architectures with financing and professional services.

"Sun's Reference Architecture and Infrastructure programs deliver on the company's promise of driving out complexity that is typically associated with the deployment of new server systems," said IDC vice president Jean Bozman. "The rigorous design, pre-integration, testing and documentation that is provided by these Sun programs all combine to make it easier for IT customers to deploy new data services and to move mission- critical workloads from one server platform to another."