Oracle Corp. will announce Tuesday that it has chosen Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris 10 operating system as its preferred development and deployment platform for most x64 architectures, including Suns UltraSPARC-based systems and x64 (x86, 64-bit) Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Opteron and Intel Corp. Xeon processor-based systems.
While the move has little immediate financial implications for Sun, the validation of its operating system as Oracles primary internal development platform is an important milestone, company officials said.
It also stands in stark contrast to the roller coaster ride of 2002 that marked Suns indecision about supporting Solaris 9 on x86.
Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., also plans to release and ship 64-bit versions of all its products on Solaris prior to or simultaneous with the release of its products on other operating systems.
Until now, Solaris was just one of the 64-bit platforms used for development and operations within Oracle, and the big change is that while Oracle will continue to provide all its products on all the platforms that they have supported, the company has now selected Solaris 10 for its own internal use.
The move will likely mean greater adoption of Suns Solaris going forward. Customers were upbeat about Oracles decision.
Thomas Nau, head of the Communication and Information Centers Infrastructure Department at the University of Ulm, in Germany, welcomed the move, saying he hoped it would help push other vendors to make their software available on the Solaris x86 platform. "It also allows us to move our databases to boxes with a better price/performance ratio, where appropriate, without having to learn about another operating system or its specialties. Currently, some 95 percent of our central services are provided by Solaris 10 on SPARC," Nau said.
Judson Althoff, vice president for global platform and distribution alliances at Oracle, told eWEEK that the company until now primarily developed on 32-bit Linux machines. But it is clear that there are more Solaris customers than Linux customers, and using Solaris as the internal 64-bit development platform thus makes sense, he said.
"A certain number of customers will choose Linux, and we want to make sure our products run on Linux and perform best on Linux," he said. "But we also feel that, on an ongoing basis, customers are evaluating performance [and] technology enhancements and want choice when it comes to architecture. We feel that Solaris 10 provides that, and for us, it is the one operating environment that allows you to design for scale-out and scale-up environments."
Oracle customers are using Solaris features like DTrace to improve the performance on their Oracle-based systems and are also rapidly adopting Solaris containers, Althoff said. For Oracle, which has large numbers of Intel-based customers, a growing number of AMD Opteron-based customers and a huge SPARC installed base, using Solaris 10 as its internal development base will allow it to target the majority of those customers, he added.
"That is not to say that we wont continue to support all the other platforms we currently do—we will," Althoff said. "This announcement is not a denouncement of any of those platforms and does not suggest that we are not going to support them going forward. But, from an internal development perspective and where we develop first, this was the best choice for us and our customer base," he said.
Oracle is pleased with Suns evolution of, and future direction for, Solaris—particularly now that it is an open-source project. Thats encouraging to Oracle, which has long worked with the Linux and the open-source community and even contributed technologies like its Clustered File System to open source, Althoff said.
"While Sun has always made the Solaris source code available to Oracle and its other partners, the difference is now the ecosystem that supports both of our products will also have access to that source, which is good for both of us and our customers," Althoff said.
Oracle has faced some challenges with the onset of Linux and the associated pressures to deliver low-cost computing solutions. Thats been compounded by the fact that, on one side, it has a tremendous number of Solaris-based customers and, on the other side, has faced strong demand from its customer base to drive toward low-cost computing solutions, he said.
"The two seemed to be mutually exclusive at one point, but with Solaris 10 now supporting a range of hardware environments, with it being open-sourced and with the latest technology enhancements, we are pleased to be developing against the Solaris 10 platform in the 64-bit realm, and we believe our customers will be pleased as well," Althoff said.
Larry Singer, a senior vice president and strategic insight officer at Sun, told eWEEK that Oracle is a leading member of the Java community and that it has taken full advantage of the Java Virtual Machine and architecture, which provides another benefit for their mutual customers.
A lot of customers will take comfort in knowing that Oracle has reviewed the technical capabilities of Solaris, its new features, functions and the power it gives individual developers and decided that those values are compelling enough to cause them to establish a preference in this environment, he said.
"This is just great news for us and comes after many years of a close relationship with Oracle," Singer said. "Having Oracle choose Solaris 10 as its preferred development platform gives Solaris a big boost. This is, for us, a fairly logical follow-on to the fact we have more than 3 million registered users of Solaris, and Oracle, like all ISVs, is interested in volume," he said.
Singer also admitted that Oracle has, over the past few years, been encouraging Sun to broaden the user base for Solaris beyond just SPARC users. Solaris 10 is now available on more than 500 hardware platforms other than Suns, "and we think we have now met their challenge there," he said.
"The open sourcing of Solaris 10 has also opened it up to the broadest possible developer community, and with AMD, Intel and others moving into the 64-bit space, a lot of us are moving in the direction of 64-bit computing, regardless of the hardware platform. To have Oracle validate Solaris 10 as their preferred platform in that environment has been quite exciting to us," Singer said.
While there is no direct revenue implications from the Oracle move as Solaris 10 is now free, there is a broad support agreement between the two companies. But there is a broader community looking for Oracles validation of the Solaris 10 operating environment, he said.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include user comments.