Sun Microsystems Inc’s latest operating system, Solaris 8, which entered its beta-testing phase earlier this month (CI No 3,737), is a move away from the big bang approach to OS upgrades, says the company. Coming less than a year after the launch of Solaris 7, the new release will be used as the base for […]
Sun Microsystems Inc’s latest operating system, Solaris 8, which entered its beta-testing phase earlier this month (CI No 3,737), is a move away from the big bang approach to OS upgrades, says the company. Coming less than a year after the launch of Solaris 7, the new release will be used as the base for a series of features, rolled out on a regular basis, according to Jeff Bernard, director of operating system product marketing at Sun. Sun has sent out the release to 300 key customers and independent software vendors.
We’re encouraging people to move to the new version, and from that point forward it will be easy to add new features, which will be released in a timely way, said Bernard. We’re paying less attention to the train and more to the passengers. It’s a moving target, but customers decide when to join the train. Bernard says that Sun will release a schedule detailing when new features will be available nearer to the date when the final version of Solaris 8 ships. A beta refresh is expected later this year, and general availability in the first quarter of next year.
Sun learned its lesson about OS upgrades years ago with the notorious SunOS to Solaris move, which was resisted for years by its customers. This time, says Bernard, there are very few upgrade issues at all. Sun says that application availability is the key decision driver for upgrades, and it says Solaris 8 offers a clear path for ISV’s certifying their applications. Solaris applications written to the Solaris ABI will run unmodified on Solaris 8, says Sun, and to prove it there is an improved version of AppCert testing tool, that analyzes application binaries and reports on any potential incompatibilities.
Solaris 8 is for both Sparc and Intel architectures, and is also running on IA-64 simulators. It supports up to 64 Sparc processors and as high as they can go on Intel. Sun says only 5% of machine dependent code must be changed between the different architectures.
Operating systems now need to operate with an awareness that goes beyond the server. Networks no longer connect just company employees to the server, but all the customers as well, and therefore mustn’t go down. Dramatic increases in scalability might be needed almost instantly to cope with unexpected demand. Everything must be fully secure. And systems must be open enough to connect up to any networked devices using web standards, as seamlessly as possible. Sun’s attempt to achieve this has seen it split up the operating system functions into modules, including its Easy Access Server for installation, configuration and management, and to handle connectivity with mainframe and NT environments. Enterprise Server is another module, including resource management and clustering.
The key additions to Solaris 8 include the next stage of Full Moon clustering failover, for up to eight nodes, and a mainframe- style global file system image. Multiple paths for handling different tasks on multiple devices are supported. Other additions include live and rolling upgrades, enabling an instant reboot back to the old version if the new version isn’t working as expected. New networking support includes IPv6, IPsec, Mobile IP, and security additions include new Kerberos, public key and role-based access control, adding granularity to the old superuser command.
Solaris 8 is part of the wider ranging Genesis architecture project at Sun, which focuses on hardware, services and processes as well as the operating system in an attempt to achieve mainframe levels of reliability, availability and scalability. That effort includes bus architecture and symmetrical multi- processing additions on the hardware side.