More Partitioning in the Works for Solaris 10

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.