Sun [SUNW] is further along with its Solaris on Power project than it is letting on. Recompiling Solaris probably isn’t that big a job but making it run properly will be. Sun would likely need to pay IBM [IBM] for help and certification. Nevertheless, Solaris on the eServer p5 and i5 may be a possibility.
Sun is planning to port its Solaris OS to IBM’s Power family.
A few weeks ago, Sun Microsystems’ president and chief operating officer, Jonathan Schwartz, blurted out during a financial analyst conference call that the company is considering porting its Solaris Unix variant to IBM’s Power family of processors, which are used on the pSeries/p5 Unix boxes and the iSeries/i5 proprietary midrange machines.
While Sun immediately backpedaled on the idea during the call – Sun chairman and CEO Scott McNealy said emphatically that Mr Schwartz’s statement was not a product announcement – inside sources say that Sun is a lot further along in getting Solaris on Power than either admitted.
Far from being just an idea, Sun sources say that the Solaris on Power project is somewhere between 80% and 85% complete. Considering that Solaris is a variant of the BSD line of Unix, probably with a lot of Java code mixed in there, recompiling Solaris to run on a Power4 or Power5 box is probably not all that tough. Getting it to run well might be, however.
But now, with the advent of the Virtualization Engine hypervisor for the eServer i5 and p5 servers, Sun probably needs IBM’s help to properly make Solaris a peer of OS/400, AIX, and Linux on the Power servers. And Sun would certainly need IBM’s help to certify Solaris on the many different machines it sells.
Sun might even be willing to do all of the porting work itself. Sun’s competitor and partner in the Sparc server market, Fujitsu-Siemens, pays Sun to port and certify Solaris on its own PrimePower Sparc clone servers. While it seems unlikely that IBM will pay Sun to do a similar port to Power, Sun could pay IBM to let it do the port. It could even give a little ground in the open sourcing of the Java programming language in exchange.