While Sun Microsystems Inc.s decision to integrate improved versions of its Unix file system and volume manager into Solaris 9, due this week, could be a blow to software partner Veritas Software Corp., it will save customers a lot of money.
Most enterprise Solaris users have bought the VxFS, or Veritas File System, and VxVM, or Veritas Volume Manager, software separately and added them to Solaris, said Sun officials, in Santa Clara, Calif. Thats mainly because the Veritas software offered better performance and functionality over Suns UFS (Unix File System) and SVM (Solaris Volume Manager), both of which ship with Solaris.
Users who wanted features such as file snapshots and file logging could get them only with the Veritas products, which could cost customers up to $40,000, depending on configuration, plus support costs.
But thats about to change. New with Solaris 9 are new versions of Suns file system and volume manager. Solaris UFS, for example, will add journaling, logging, direct I/O, snapshots—a way of doing online backups of a file system—and better performance. The new SVM adds soft disk partitioning to allow more than seven partitions on a disk, as well as an improved management interface, device ID and the ability to perform transparent Solaris upgrades.
Customers will be offered a choice of environments.
“Some customers were expressing concerns around the cost of that approach for them,” said Andy Ingram, a vice president for Solaris at Sun. “There was also an ongoing stability challenge as Solaris presents public APIs. And, for Veritas to get the highest level of performance, it doesnt write to those APIs but rather to other places in the Solaris source code. The problem is that if Sun changes things under the APIs, like a patch, this can inadvertently impact the Veritas products and break something there.”
Customers have welcomed the move and cost savings it will bring.
“In the past, the only way we could get these features was by paying for the Veritas File System, which is pretty expensive,” said Boyd Fletcher, a systems engineer at management and technical services provider EG&G Inc., in Norfolk, Va., and a Solaris 9 beta tester.
EG&G will migrate its production systems from the two Veritas products to Solaris 9. “The features make it worthwhile, as does the option of saving some $50,000 a year in maintenance costs to Veritas,” Fletcher said.
Shirin Azad, a product manager at Veritas, in Mountain View, Calif., downplayed the effect of Suns move. A small number of Solaris users might find the Sun solution adequate, but the growing number of companies that continue to scale their data centers will continue to need Veritas solutions, Azad said.