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Powerful OS alternative: open-architecture at an attractive price.

Suppose you were rolling along the highway at 60-plus-a-few, when a jazzier ride passes you. Would you consider exchanging seats with the other driver, without, say, first making a pit stop on the berm?

Sun Microsystems, San Jose, CA, is asking computer users to consider such a decision, and switch to their Solaris 10 operating system. Sun is one of the "Big Three" for OS software the others being Microsoft and Linux--but was long considered beyond reach for many users, and overly specialized for others. Much of the CAD and engineering-related software of the last five years has been written for proprietary operating systems such as Windows, making people reluctant to change.

However, Solaris, and Sun products in general, have not been plagued with the ubiquitous security problems that have afflicted Windows products. In fact, the company says that Solaris 10 will include security features that, in past, were supplied strictly to the government. Additionally, Sun licenses open-source access Solaris for developing software and systems.

Solaris 10 will work on more than 270 computer platforms running on chips from Sun, ADM or Intel. The only industrial-grade UNIX environment for x86 systems, Solaris 10 is suited to companies that wish to run 32- or 64- bit applications with scalability from a few to hundreds of CPUs, delivering the same features and services across UltraSPARC processor, FUJITSU SPARC64, AMD Opteron processor, and Intcl Xeon Processor MP based systems. Businesses can use low-cost hardware standardized on a single enterprise-wide operating system.

Features include:

* Solaris Containers (formerly N1 Grid Containers)--isolates software applications and services using software-defined boundaries. Each application can be given a private environment, virtually eliminating error propagation, unauthorized access, and unintentional intrusions.

* DTrace--dynamic tracing framework troubleshoots systemic problems in real time. It offers visibility into kernel and application activity to tune applications for performance and troubleshoot production systems with little or no performance impact.

* Solaris ZFS (zettabyte file system)--automates common administrative tasks, protecting data from corruption, and providing virtually unlimited scalability. Solaris ZFS uses virtual storage pools to facilitate expansion/contraction of file systems through adding drives, thus simplifying storage administration, and allowing resources to be shared among file systems. The time needed to perform some functions has been reduced by orders of magnitude--from hours to just seconds.

* Predictive Self-Healing--automatically diagnoses, isolates, and recovers from many hardware/application faults. Business-critical applications and essential system services can continue uninterrupted in the event of software failures/ misconfiguration or major hardware component failures. Upon application restart, PSH manages hardware and application dependencies for a clean recovery.

* Security--system protects against both malicious external attacks and data access violations from the inside. A redesigned cryptographic framework allows selection of preferred encryption methods, automatically taking advantage of available cryptographic hardware. The Process Rights Management component provides fine-grained control over user/process rights.

* Linux Interoperability--Linux applications can run natively within the Solaris environment without emulation performance penalties. These applications can be scaled up to Solaris, use a gradual porting/transition strategy from Linux to Solaris, or with Solaris Containers run the Linux application in a secure container alongside Solaris applications.

* Network Performance--a completely rewritten TCP/ IP reduces the number of instructions required to process packets, thereby increasing scalability by allowing more simultaneous connections, rather than increasing the number of CPUs and network interface cards.

And the price? Free--with Sun's expected revenue deriving from subscription fees for support and service programs. By offering the OS at no cost, Sun hopes that they will not only attract new customers, but also expand the number of developers writing Solaris-based programs. --RM/SG

Circle 155--Sun Microsystems, or connect directly at
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Title Annotation:Five Star Product Of The Month
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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