Sun Adds File System, Manager to Solaris 9

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-05-20 Print this article Print

While Sun Microsystems Inc.'s decision to integrate improved versions of its Unix file system and volume manager into Solaris 9, due this week, could be a blow to software partner Veritas Software Corp., it will save customers a lot of money.

While Sun Microsystems Inc.s decision to integrate improved versions of its Unix file system and volume manager into Solaris 9, due this week, could be a blow to software partner Veritas Software Corp., it will save customers a lot of money.

Most enterprise Solaris users have bought the VxFS, or Veritas File System, and VxVM, or Veritas Volume Manager, software separately and added them to Solaris, said Sun officials, in Santa Clara, Calif. Thats mainly because the Veritas software offered better performance and functionality over Suns UFS (Unix File System) and SVM (Solaris Volume Manager), both of which ship with Solaris.

Users who wanted features such as file snapshots and file logging could get them only with the Veritas products, which could cost customers up to $40,000, depending on configuration, plus support costs.

But thats about to change. New with Solaris 9 are new versions of Suns file system and volume manager. Solaris UFS, for example, will add journaling, logging, direct I/O, snapshots—a way of doing online backups of a file system—and better performance. The new SVM adds soft disk partitioning to allow more than seven partitions on a disk, as well as an improved management interface, device ID and the ability to perform transparent Solaris upgrades.

Customers will be offered a choice of environments.

"Some customers were expressing concerns around the cost of that approach for them," said Andy Ingram, a vice president for Solaris at Sun. "There was also an ongoing stability challenge as Solaris presents public APIs. And, for Veritas to get the highest level of performance, it doesnt write to those APIs but rather to other places in the Solaris source code. The problem is that if Sun changes things under the APIs, like a patch, this can inadvertently impact the Veritas products and break something there."

Customers have welcomed the move and cost savings it will bring.

"In the past, the only way we could get these features was by paying for the Veritas File System, which is pretty expensive," said Boyd Fletcher, a systems engineer at management and technical services provider EG&G Inc., in Norfolk, Va., and a Solaris 9 beta tester.

EG&G will migrate its production systems from the two Veritas products to Solaris 9. "The features make it worthwhile, as does the option of saving some $50,000 a year in maintenance costs to Veritas," Fletcher said.

Shirin Azad, a product manager at Veritas, in Mountain View, Calif., downplayed the effect of Suns move. A small number of Solaris users might find the Sun solution adequate, but the growing number of companies that continue to scale their data centers will continue to need Veritas solutions, Azad said.

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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