Sun Solaris Embraces PostgreSQL

After a few delays, Sun Microsystems  is now fully supporting the open source PostgreSQL database on its Solaris 10 operating system.

The new support follows the June 6th update to Solaris 10, including improvements to networking, AMD chip support and a new file system.

Sun originally announced support for PostgreSQL last November. Since then, Sun has hired PostgreSQL core team member Josh Berkus as PostgreSQL Lead for Sun’s Database Technology Group.

Berkus noted that in addition to himself, staff members from Sun’s Performance Engineering Group and Market Development Engineering Groups are spending part of their time on PostgreSQL improvements.

“It’s been more of an effort of a bunch of different Sun staff member providing a little bit of input rather than a whole bunch of dedicated staff,” Berkus explained.

Sun’s embrace of full enterprise support for PostgreSQL in Solaris 10 isn’t about pushing its preferred development and runtime platform for most x64 architectures.

Chris Ratcliffe, director of marketing for System Software at Sun, told that it’s just about giving customers choice.

“One of the things we find is that all of corporate customers are looking to reduce costs,” Ratcliffe said. “One of the ways in which many of them are doing that is that they are looking at their existing enterprise deployment stacks and seeing other things that they can replace with an open source product that is good enough.”

“For example, we have some customers who believe that they can replace 30 percent of their existing commercial databases with an open source alternative and it will actually reduce their cost and it does meet their requirements in terms of availability and scalability,” Ratcliffe added.

The Solaris 10 update also includes support for the ZettaByte File System (ZFS) that Sun has been testing in OpenSolaris since last year when it first made Solaris 10 source code available in order to create future versions of the operating system apart from Sun’s proprietary Solaris efforts.

ZFS is an update to Sun’s 25-year-old Unix File System (UFS), and is a 128-bit file system with enhanced error detection and correction capabilities. Though ZFS represents a leap forward over UFS, Sun doesn’t expect a customer stampede to upgrade just yet.

“The currency of the data center is people’s information,” Ratcliffe said. “Sowe expect people to be cautiously optimistic with ZFS and what that means is they will take and will do some testing and deployments before they do a wholesale migration.”

Ratcliffe expects that enterprise customers will take six to nine months to ramp up to ZFS and along the way Sun will offer services and documentation to help ease transition.

“We’re also giving people the ability to run ZFS and UFS side by side it’s not like everybody has to migrate immediately,” Ratcliffe noted. “In terms of compatibility, UFS will be there and supported for some time moving forward.”

Solaris 10 6/06 also includes optimizations in the network stack around SSL  and UDP  performance.

Ratcliffe explained that Sun has put an SSL  cache into the Solaris kernel, which could lead to a performance improvement of 25 to 45 percent, depending on what the users are running and how they benchmark. The UDP enhancements have the potential to improve performance by 90 percent.

Sun’s Predictive Self-Healing feature, which notifies a system administrator when a component has failed and then moves anything running on that component elsewhere, is now being extended to include AMD-based processors.

The support is the first time the full suite of Sun’s predictive self-healing features are available on a non-SPARC platform. As for whether Sun and Intel have a similar relationship, Ratcliffe was mum.

The next update to Solaris 10 is expected in the fall and could mark the debut of Trusted Extensions for Solaris 10.

Trusted Extensions is essentially the next generation of Sun’s Trusted Solaris product and is expected to have Common Criteria evaluation level of EAL 4+.

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