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Solaris, Virtualization Combo Floats All Boats?

Bundled virtualization features in Solaris 10 are bolstering the IT industry's server business and may even have a positive impact on the storage sector, if CEO Jonathan Schwartz is to be believed.
Bundled virtualization features in Solaris 10 are bolstering the IT industry's server business and may even have a positive impact on the storage sector, if CEO Jonathan Schwartz is to be believed.The quotable executive's Weblog on Wednesday repeated his belief that virtualization is good for the technology industry, which may seem contradictory at first.

"The general fear is that technologies like Solaris 10 or VMware that help people squeeze more work from the systems they already own is somehow bad for Sun. In my view, quite the opposite is true," Schwartz said.

Instead, Schwartz notes that consolidating lots of poorly utilized computers may lower unit volumes, but the configurations of the systems sold are maxed out with more memory, more cores and threads, more storage, etc. The benefit is that it creates a financial ripple effect for Sun, HP, Dell and IBM, according to Schwartz because Solaris runs on everybody's servers.

The same could be said for the storage industry: "Increased utilization = value, efficiency, affordability. And with Solaris at the heart of our new storage offerings," Storage group manager Taylor Allis posted in reply. "Sun is one of the few that offers virtualization benefits from the OS to the data store."

Gartner supports the theory somewhat. Worldwide server shipments and revenues showed single-digit growth last year, with Sun Microsystems posting its first jump in market share based on sales in five years.

But Schwartz claims Sun's edge comes from its Solaris and OpenSolaris offerings, which have been infused with Xen to augment its ZFS, as well as Crossbow (network virtualization resource controller) and Java. The thinking is that customers can use open source products to consolidate Linux, Solaris and Windows boxes laying around their datacenters, without having to pay exorbitant software licenses for add-on products.

Solid advice? Perhaps. It really works well if you are already a Sun/Solaris customer, mostly using open source software, or you are building out your infrastructure and you want to test out some new virtualization architecture. As always, consolidation is wonderful in theory but converting existing infrastructure requires dedicated teams or a service contractor.

Sun hopes you'll invest in both.

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