Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are each working on new file format and storage systems for their operating systems that promise to let users store and access both more easily.
Going forward, Sun will take its technology beyond the current Unix file system and Solaris volume manager found in its upcoming Solaris 9 release, said Bill Moffit, product line manager for Solaris at Sun, in Menlo Park, Calif.
The company is implementing a next-generation QFS advanced file system and a next-generation MFS storage system it acquired as part of its purchase of LSC Inc., of Eaton, Minn., last year.
"We are also working on other file systems that will take us beyond even that," Moffit said, declining further comment.
The new file system, which stores metadata separately from data, forms part of Suns N1 next-generation operating system for the network, sources said. N1 is under development.
Meanwhile, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., is investing in new initiatives for the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, and beyond. To help do it, the company will use some technologies from the next SQL Server edition, code-named Yukon, said Jim Allchin, group vice president of platforms at Microsoft, at WinHEC here last week.
But there are differences in Suns and Microsofts visions. Suns Moffit claims Microsoft is building SQL Server into the file system as an integral part, "but this intrinsically locks users into the SQL Server database operations. That reduces opportunities for other database and third-party vendors to build on Windows," he said.
Sun is including the open-source MySQL database management system with Solaris 9. "We also include a copy of Oracle9i that they can use to develop applications that they can then license for deployment," Moffit said.
Windows users disagreed with this assessment. David DeBona, an e-commerce technical consultant for a large retailer based in Columbus, Ohio, said he was looking forward to Microsofts next-generation file system. "There are significant hurdles to be overcome from a procedural perspective, [but] I do believe this will allow for a quantum leap in flexibility and usability in file storage," DeBona said. "I welcome any changes that allow for the easier categorization and organization of files."
"The more Windows built-in applications use a consistent and open data store, the better I like it," said Tim Sagstetter, president of Kernel Software Inc., in Wausau, Wis.
One analyst said both companies are on the right track. "Microsoft is laying the groundwork of Yukon, the Holy Grail of storage for it, in the operating system," said Michael Cherry, with consultancy Directions on Microsoft Inc., in Kirkland, Wash.