Sun Goes After Linux

Sun Microsystems today announced a series of product and strategic updates to its Solaris operating system, adding new security and virtualization technologies in a renewed push into the x86 market and against Linux.

The new version of Solaris, called Solaris 10 11/06, adds Solaris Trusted Extensions, a data security technology that had previously been sold separately to selected customers.

Sun  also added Secure By Default Networking, which automatically configures a customer’s network settings for greater protection from external attacks.

Solaris 10 11/06 is in the process of being certified at EAL4+ protection with Controlled Access, Role-Based Access Control, and Labeled Security Protection Profiles (CAPP, RBAC, LSPP) for SPARC and x64/x86 servers.

Sun also added virtualization improvements, such as Logical Domains and enhanced Solaris Containers. Logical Domains will allow customers to dynamically provision and run up to 32 OS instances on each UltraSPARC T1-based system.

Solaris Containers allow for the isolation of software applications and services, so applications can run in their own private memory space within a single instance of Solaris. This allows for isolated execution of an application, better security, or a safe spot in which to test an application.

Sun also plans to add clustering technology to Solaris 10 throughout 2007, most notably Xen hypervisor, an open source paravirtualization technology that provides an improved software interface to virtual machines.

Armed with this updated Solaris, Sun is going squarely after the Linux market. Sun said more applications (over 2,000) support Solaris than Linux, and it’s more than ready to compete.

“We’ve reached a point where we really think that we’re ready to get and go more broadly into that marketplace,” said Tom Goguen, vice president of Solaris software at Sun on a conference call with reporters.

To that end, Sun announced plans to offer support, remote systems management capabilities, migration assistance, training and professional services for Solaris, particularly on x86/x86-64 systems, designed to make it more competitive with Linux.

The new Solaris Support Subscriptions is priced at about half of an equivalent offering from Red Hat, from $49 for a developer-related incident on up. Solaris 10 Support Subscriptions include full indemnification and binary and source code compatibility, and provides access to free updates and upgrades to the latest Solaris technologies.

“We look at this volume x86 server market as being underserved today,” said Goguen. “Customers want to move to open source solutions, that’s clear. They are looking to maintain enterprise-class support 24/7 in that transition to open source software, and that’s been difficult for other vendors to achieve.”

Andi Mann, senior analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, wholly agrees with Sun’s sentiment. “Everyone is looking at Linux as a darling child, and I think it has a great opportunity. But Sun is coming from a position of great strength and maturity in the operating system space and building around all kinds of features into Solaris,” he told

“This is really starting to give some strong equivalents to the openness of Linux while putting a solid, mature vendor behind it,” he added. “It should give enterprises pause to think why not Solaris?”

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