More Partitioning in the Works for Solaris 10

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-05-19 Print this article Print

Some say Sun's challenge will be execution.

Sun Microsystems Inc. has developed an advanced partitioning technology, due in Solaris 10, that enables users to further partition the operating system into pieces that can run individual applications.

Called Solaris Zones, the partitioning technology offers such capabilities as delegated administration, metering and billing, the ability to perform logical reboots, and better control of shared versus unshared resources.

"We are not as convinced—given where microprocessor power and blades are today—that running lots of operating systems on a single chip is that useful," said John Fowler, Suns chief technology officer for software, in Santa Clara, Calif. "We are not presently going to offer that option to customers, but we are bringing domains down and down so the hardware can be physically partitioned down to a single chip at a lower price point.

"All future implementations of Trusted Solaris will be based around Zones because of delegated and trust administration," Fowler said.

The Solaris Also Rises

Version 10 features will include:
  • Solaris Zones, to partition the operating system into pieces that can run individual applications
  • Improved performance, including on multithreaded CPUs and Intel hyperthreaded CPUs
  • Technology to allow "observability," or what is happening in a running system
  • The move extends the container technologies in the current Solaris 9, which allows customers to partition the operating system into pieces.

    While the seeds of this work were in Solaris 9, Solaris 10, due in beta this year, contains essentially a hardened version of the Solaris service containers in Version 9.

    Sun officials are betting the strategy drives hardware sales, from low-end blade servers all the way to high-end Solaris multiprocessing servers. Theyre also hoping it will convince customers of the merits of its N1 vision for easing management and increasing use of resources in data centers.

    The challenge for Sun is execution, said Tony Iams, an analyst at D.H. Brown Associates Inc., in Port Chester, N.Y. Sun has taken a different approach from Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM, which put a copy of the operating system in each logical partition. Instead, its managing resources in terms of processes that were managed by a set of tools, he said.

    Fowler said Suns Solaris engineering team is also improving performance issues, including the ability to handle highly dense multithreaded CPUs and Intel Corp. hyperthreaded CPUs.

    Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

    He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

    He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

    He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

    He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

    He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

    His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

    For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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