A lot of this work, designed to drive innovation in Solaris, is taking place in Suns labs and through its work with open-source technologies, Ulander said. Work under way in Suns labs includes how to better integrate the operating system with the underlying hardware to give extreme optimization and a unique design that can not be duplicated using the open-source Linux operating system, he said.Goguen confirms that Suns lab staff is working on "all sorts of interesting new technologies that will ultimately find their way into future versions if Solaris. I also believe that the closer the software attaches itself to the application or application stack, the better it distinguishes itself," he said. Click here to read more about Sun Labs. The operating system needs to be more locked to applications going forward, which will play out in a variety of scenarios like server appliances sitting on top of the hypervisor, Goguen said. But the management of that virtualization environment remains a big issue, and Sun is acutely aware that it needs to deliver tools and services for this, which can then also be leveraged by application developers, he said. While Suns DTrace technology will provide the telemetry and services across the entire software stack, the company is also working on interesting technology on the storage front, such as delivering devices that look like an NAS device but that can also be a big storage system with a device attached, he said. Ulander noted that Suns software teams are also working far more closely with the key players on the systems side of the companys business to create new market-shifting devices such as appliances that need this tight integration of the operating system to the server. But, with regard to tight integration of the operating system to the application, "this is where the interesting story around virtualization comes in. When you think about a dynamic data center where resources are shiftingthe grid is a great example of transactional-based changes within the infrastructure to support some type of demand, be that from the application, user or storage system," Ulander said. To read about how Solaris 10 is set to get Xen support, click here. The challenge here was to create optimized, virtual appliances or optimized application stacks, where the packages that the user does not need have been removed and that give the user a two to three times improvement in performance of over what he would get with a regular application running on top of a regular operating system. "That becomes an image that can be blasted down, on demand, to some virtualized environment. When you couple the hardware and software innovation together, you have a pretty compelling enterprise and telco story, and the idea here is that you are creating a virtualized operating system and a data center operating system," Ulander said. Creating things for Solaris like CoolThreads, true hardware optimization, and unique new products like Thumper and others helped create the ideal virtualized data center for a user, while taking advantage of the high-availability, robust features traditionally seen in a mainframe type of product, he said. The benefit of open-source development is that it lets ISVs quickly take operating systems and optimize stacks to create turnkey appliances that provide a higher level of reliability, availability and performance because there are fewer moving parts. "So this is then done from a horizontal, rather than vertical, scale perspective," Ulander said. "If you dont innovate the operating system to do those things, all you have is Linux, running on those inefficient Intel boxes. "My guess is, given that Larry [Ellison, CEO of Oracle] has increased his focus on Red Hat and building his own Linux, that he wants to build one of those stacks himself using Linux. But people can do the same thing with Solaris," he said. Click here to read why Larry Ellison says Oracle knows whats best for Linux. This optimization could also be partner-led, ISV-led, Sun-led or customer-led. For its part, Sun is planning to do this, not only with some of its own application stacks, but also with some open-source stacks, Ulander said. "But Sun does not compete with its partners, so are we going to go out and build an Oracle killer? No. But you will see some opportunistic plays where we might go and do something with open source, like creating an open-source application stack for telecom providers. We are going to be very specific about the markets we go after," he said. Goguen said all of this is part of what "will make us compelling to people building out the next generation of Web applications and services that will serve the SMB [small and midsize business] market. As the operating system evolves, and because it is open source, this makes it more likely that someone will leverage Solaris technology to provide products and/or appliances into the SMB market," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
"For example, we were able to take a two-way box and smack on 500 terabytes of storage because of certain features in Solaris and its file system, and create a kick-ass end server around it. You just cant get the same level of scale and flexibility and performance by taking Thumper [the Sun Fire X4500 hybrid storage/server appliance] and loading Linux on it," he said.