Sun Microsystems officials on Friday offered a sneak peak into its Solaris OS plans, touting incremental improvements in areas such as resource management expected to reach users' systems within a year.
Having just shipped Version 9 of Solaris in May, company officials speaking at Sun's San Francisco office talked up features in the newly released OS and future plans. The next major release of the OS, Solaris 10, is expected in 2004 or 2005.
"The main theme of Solaris 10 as it stands right now is the continuation, primarily, of minimisation of total cost of ownership," said Bill Moffitt, Sun product line manager for the Solaris operating environment. Emphasis will be on continuing to push the envelope in performance, boosting manageability and driving the OS to support deployment of massive numbers of systems without requiring additional personnel to administer them, he said.
"What it's about is being able to manage more systems with fewer resources," said Moffitt. Reliability and security improvements also are anticipated, he said.
An official at a storage products company that has tested its systems on Solaris 9 gave a thumbs-up to Sun's plans to boost administration without requiring additional personnel.
"I would think that anybody who's using Sun would be interested in that," said John DeStefano, a tech staffer at 3PARdata in California.
But 3PARdata, which supports Solaris 8, has no immediate plans to migrate its product infrastructure to Solaris 9, he said. "For what we're doing, there isn't any big feature that would get us to move," DeStefano said. Solaris 9, however, "worked great" when his company tested it.
Sun officials stressed that Solaris 9 is faster and more secure than before. "We're talking about more than an operating environment, we're talking about a services platform," said Sun's Larry Wake, product line manager for Solaris Software. The OS also will feature a bundled version of the Sun ONE Application Server 7 Platform Edition later this year.
Sun officials on Friday talked further about incremental improvements planned for the OS that will arrive prior to Solaris 10 and be included in that release as well.
One feature planned for early next year, called Secure WAN boot, will provide the ability to remotely trigger an upgrade on a system, via the public Internet. Solaris this year will also be fitted with a capability called IPQoS, which will enable bandwidth management improvements to create virtual pipes within a network space. For example, an administrator could designate 80 per cent of a system for e-mail services and 20 per cent for Web services, according to Sun.
A feature called Physical Memory Control, planned for 2003, will enable allocation of physical memory to specific applications.
Memory Placement Optimization, due by the end of this year, will place memory as close to the affected processor as possible, within the operating environment. This is significant for high-end machines such as the Sun Fire 6800 server, according to Wake. "The idea is the closer the memory is to the CPU, the faster things run."
A simplified container GUI is planned for a year out to boost management of Solaris containers, which are virtual servers that run inside Solaris to subdivide the OS for application processing.
A feature planned for Solaris 9 called install time hardening will enable the removal of traditional OS utilities that are not necessary to run a business, such as ftp, telnet, and sendmail.
Sun also plans to make the Solaris security toolkit part of the operating environment. It is a separate download at the moment. Also in the area of security, Sun plans to add MIT resync, for distributed Kerberos key management, to Solaris 9 by the end of 2002.
Moffitt said Sun could not track the pace of upgrades to Solaris 9, but that the previous release, Solaris 8, is still the predominant version in the field. Sun expects Solaris 9 to displace it during the next two years, he said.