Sun Jumps On Open-Source Database Bandwagon To Boost Solaris - InformationWeek

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Sun Jumps On Open-Source Database Bandwagon To Boost Solaris

Sun says there are now 3.3 million registered users of its open-source Solaris 10

Sun Microsystems Inc. is expanding the list of open-source code that it supports in its Solaris 10 operating system to include both the Postgres database and Xen virtualization server.

The move is surprising in that Sun and Oracle have historically been close allies, with Oracle among the first to adopt Sun's Java language in its products. Now Sun is encouraging the use of open-source databases by insuring that Postgres will work with Solaris 10 and including Postgres with distributions of its operating system.

In the past, Sun's Solaris has been Oracle's premier platform, acknowledged John Loiacono, executive VP for software, in a Sun teleconference Thursday. "We'd love to see Oracle move in this direction itself," said Loiacono. But until it makes an open-source version of the Oracle database, Sun will distribute the best alternative, he added.

Sun will start distributing Postgres with Solaris immediately and will integrate it into the operating system in the first half of 2006. Solaris 10 is the open-source code version of Sun's formerly commercial Unix operating system. Sun still charges for support for Solaris 10.

The company also hosts the OpenSolaris open-source code project, where new technology is developed for Solaris (www.opensolaris.org). OpenSolaris is not a product and Sun does not offer technical support for the new technologies generated by the project. But many of them are expected to eventually find their way into future versions of Solaris.

Sun is adding Postgres to Solaris to encourage more downloads of its operating system and increase its market share versus Linux and the commercial forms of Unix with which it competes, such as IBM's AIX.

Loiacono said Sun has counted 3.3 million registrations of systems running Solaris 10 since making Solaris open-source code on Jan. 31. "It's been a surprise, even to us," he said. Two-thirds of the copies are running on Intel Corp. or Advanced Micro Devices Inc.-powered servers, as opposed to Sun's own Sparc architecture. Loiacono termed the open source strategy "a nice, solid success."

Sun reported a loss of $123 million in its first quarter of fiscal 2006, and skeptics of the company's strategy point to the loss of Solaris revenues as part of the problem. But Loiacono said Sun would press on with its bid to make Solaris a more widely used operating system, opening the door to increased sales of Sun's middleware, its Java Enterprise System, and other Sun products. Loiacono said Sun has just signed a deal for an additional 300,000 users of Java Enterprise System at General Motors Corp. Sun charges $140 per user at regular prices.

Solaris 10 will start supporting the open-source code Xen virtualization server in December. Xen is an open-source project that allows multiple copies of one or more operating systems to run on a single server. Virtualization allows a server running one application to host multiple applications, each with their own allotment of memory, CPU cycles, and access to network bandwidth. Virtualization is frequently used as a server consolidation strategy, Loiacono noted.

Sun has decided to incorporate its advanced, 128-bit, ZFS or Zetabyte File System into Solaris 10, said Glenn Weinberg, VP of the operating platforms group. Just as the move from 32-bit to 64-bit operating systems and file systems opened the door to much larger database operations, the move to a 128-bit file system will increase the capacities of Solaris 10. Weinberg said the move enabled what he described as an almost countless number of possibilities under Solaris, such as creating "16 billion billion" times the number of files allowed under a 32-bit system.

The ZFS file system has built-in file management that simplifies storage management tasks, said Weinberg. It also includes a data checking mechanism, called 64-bit checksums, that monitor the exact bit count of data that's created and note any time the count changes as the data is moved about. The mechanism is a guard against data errors that occur when bits are lost as power supplies brown out or systems fail.

Sun officials boast that Linux, Windows, and other competing operating systems cannot offer the data integrity guarantees that Solaris 10 can.

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