Sun Releases Fully Equipped Solaris 9

Sun's new Solaris 9 "goes beyond anything offered by Windows NT, IBM's AIX, HP-UX and any other Unix system in the market today," COO Ed Zander said.

MENLO PARK, Calif.—Sun Microsystems Inc. has spent as much time and money on developing its latest Solaris operating environment as it had on any other product in the companys history, chief operating officer Ed Zander said at the launch of Solaris 9 here Wednesday.

"The launch of Solaris 9 today has been five years in the making and brings a new class of product to the market," Zander said. "It brings an operating environment that contains Web services and middleware integration, essentially giving customers a modern services platform.

"Solaris 9 goes beyond anything offered by Windows NT, IBMs AIX, HP-UX and any other Unix system in the market today. We offer an integratable stack based on Sun ONE [Open Net Environment]. Were responding to what customers want and thats why weve built-in all these technologies," Zander said.

While many people still think of Sun as a hardware company, some two-thirds of its engineers are working on the software side of its business, Zander said.

Anil Gadre, vice president of Solaris software at Sun, announced on Wednesday that Solaris 9 would include an integrated J2EE-compliant application server, with a single server deployment license, which would help speed up innovation as more developers would now be writing to the J2EE architecture.

The application server will be available later this year and would be delivered through a regular Solaris update, he added.

The integration of the application server poses a threat to BEA Systems Inc., which is the largest seller of application server software used on Sun servers, said IDC analyst Jean Bozman, but added that BEA would not be "blown away" by the move since Sun already has a wide installed base and many enterprises have standardized on it.

Also included in Solaris 9 is an integrated SunONE LDAP directory server as well as a full functioning enterprise firewall.

Gadre said the Solaris license will save customers money. "Co-packaged software, which only have development licenses, include the Sun ONE Portal Server, Integration Server, Web Server, Messaging Server, Studio and Oracle 9i for evaluation, as well as our StarOffice 6.0 productivity suite. "And the savings that result are significant: in the Web tier the savings per server is up to $21,000, $15,000 to $175,000 a server at the application tier level and, at the data management tier, between $6,000 and $101,000 a server. When we talk about changing the economics of the space, these are the proof points," Gadre said.

Another innovation in the operating environment are Solaris software containers, a mechanism to virtualize compute resources, he said.

Solaris 9 offeres two levels of partitioning: systems domains in the hardware and containerization in the operating system. The new Resource Manager is the first in a set of technologies that will continue to be rolled out over the life of Solaris 9, Gadre said.

Solaris Flash and Live Upgrade are also integrated into Solaris 9, which allows a new stack to be integrated while the old one is still running.

On the security front, Solaris 9 includes a variety of features, including tools, scripts and a full functioning enterprise firewall. A secure shell is also included, secure LDAP access, improvements to the Kerberos V5 server, an 128-bit IPsec and IKE with strong cryptographics.

A RAS Knowledge Database and RAS Profile is also included, which scans the database and tells users what vulnerabilities exist so these can be proactively fixed.

In addition, Solaris 9 contains a new feature, Solaris Patch Manager, which allows the delivery of secure, digitally signed bits.

Sun is integrating Java, XML and Web technologies into Solaris, including Java APIs for XML processing. An optimized Apache Web server is also integrated, as is a new volume manager and file system enhancements, including new snapshot and logging capabilities.

"Customer adoption of Solaris 8 has been faster than for any other version of the product, and I expect adoption of Solaris 9 to be quick given it is services-ready; critical applications are just built in; it offers better manageability, lower risks as well as better availability and performance improvements release-to-release. It also includes and adheres to 190 different protocols and open standards," Gadre said.

The market, on the services platform, is down to two competitors: Sun with its open systems and standards, and Microsoft, with its closed, proprietary and expensive offering. "Solaris is the safe choice," Gadre said.

Jonathan Schwartz, the incoming head of Suns software operation, agreed, saying there is a "great sucking sound called Software Assurance [Microsoft Corp.s new licensing scheme] in the market and were not going to penalize our customers for not upgrading immediately. The scales are shifting and customers no longer want to be held to ransom," he said.