Although Sun Microsystems may have entered the ranks of high-end Unix operating systems makers last week with the release of the 64-bit Solaris 7, the vendor acknowledged that there is still more work to be done in future versions of the OS.
As a result, Sun this week outlined an ambitious road map for Solaris 8 and 9.
Sun hopes that planned improvements to the OS during the next 12 to 36 months will transform Solaris from an operating system that controls print and other enterprise computing functions, into the backbone and lifeblood of a computing utility envisioned not only by Sun, but also by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and others.
Initial elements that will premiere with Solaris 8 will include advanced clustering, providing high availability and the load balancing and message passing used in sophisticated parallel computing designs. These features have been a sticking point with industry analysts who have said Sun has been late in implementing them.
Solaris 8 will also include an integrated application server, which will ease developers' tasks in creating and deploying distributed applications based on Sun's Enterprise JavaBeans architecture.
Solaris 8 is due in 12 to 18 months, according to Sanjay Sinha, group marketing manager for Solaris.
Solaris 9 will constitute the third wave of Sun's networked-world aspirations, which will culminate with integrated Java APIs and "federated" Jini support. This Java/Jini-centric world is being hinted at now, with the latest Java Virtual Machine included in Solaris 7, and with Sun rolling out Java Development Kit 1.2 this month.
"We are trying to achieve a computing utility, ubiquitous, any device, anywhere, anytime," Sinha said.
"On the back-end server sides, we are Java-ising and Jini-ising Solaris."