Solaris Users: No Rush to 9

There are 'no seismic changes' but some impressive features.

Sun Microsystems Inc. may have a new challenge before it regarding the companys new Solaris 9 operating system: convincing contented Solaris 8 users its worth the upgrade.

John De Stefano, a software engineer with 3ParData Inc., in Fremont, Calif., said his company is in no rush to move to Solaris 9 but not because of a lack of features or functionality. "We are a midrange Sun shop, and most everything we have is currently on Solaris 8," De Stefano said. "Given that we dont have a big Web infrastructure, there is no great motivation for us to move to Solaris 9 at this point."

3ParData, which builds carrier-class storage servers, is testing Solaris 9, and, so far, De Stefano said the company is impressed with some of the new features and technologies, such as improvements made to Network File System, multipatching I/O and software partitioning. In the end, its something the company will "eventually" upgrade to, he said.

A Solaris 9 beta tester at Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays Bank plc., in London, said he, too, is in no rush to upgrade.

"There are no seismic changes from Solaris 8 to 9," said the tester, who requested anonymity. "It is more of an evolution, and so there is no real value for us to upgrade at this point. We are also very cautious about moving to new versions and only do so after thorough testing."

But he expected Sun to continue to innovate with Solaris 9 and to release additional features and functionality that would, over time, make moving to Solaris 9 compelling.

Nevertheless, some analysts said Solaris 9 should be worth the upgrade. "I dont see any potentially disruptive features in Solaris 9 that could make it a hard-sell upgrade," said Al Gillan, an analyst for International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass. Gillan estimated that between 30 and 40 percent of the Solaris installed base runs Solaris 8.

Sun officials said they are confident that the adoption rate for Solaris 9 will be better than that for Solaris 8. "I think over the next 12 months, we will see customers start doing a Directory on one instance of Solaris 9, and I expect to initially see large numbers of single-instance usage on new machines," said Anil Gadre, Suns vice president of Solaris software, in Palo Alto, Calif. "But the performance improvements that come with 9 will be compelling to users, and we expect this to drive adoption."