Open source database boost for Solaris, boon for clients

Boosting its Solaris OS, Sun Microsystems plans to distribute the PostgreSQL open source database with Solaris and will enable Red Hat Linux binaries to run unmodified on the OpenSolaris open source version of the operating system.

The company’s multifaceted announcement Thursday also includes intentions to offer ZFS (Zettabyte File System), a 128-byte file system with enhanced error detection correction capabilities, to open source via OpenSolaris.

In accommodating customer requests for an open source database, company officials acknowledged the PostgreSQL arrangement’s potential to clash with a renewed relationship Sun has with commercial database vendor Oracle. Oracle was aware of today’s move with PostgreSQL, but the company lacks an open source database, according to Sun.

“I would have loved to have Oracle give me an open source version” of its database, said John Loiacono, Sun executive vice president and head of the company’s software group. “We’d love to see Oracle move in this direction, as well.”

Oracle this week selected Solaris as its preferred development and deployment platform for most x64 hardware architectures and Sun UltraSparc systems. (Oracle officials were unable to comment by the filing of this article.)

As part of its integration with PostgreSQL, Sun will support the product, which is to be available with Solaris in 30 days.

“The impact of the PostgreSQL announcement is significant, in my opinion, in that it gives Sun a credible database option to augment their existing software stack,” said Stephen O’Grady, senior analyst at RedMonk, in an e-mail. “PostgreSQL gets less attention than does MySQL, but is a very credible open source database and one that has shown signs of increasing popularity of late.”

ZFS, meanwhile, will be broadly available in Solaris in the first half of 2006 but is available for the OpenSolaris community now. Sun officials stressed that its 128-bit support represents a volume that will never be exceeded. Automated administration also is featured.

“It is designed to be much easier to use file system from an administrative perspective,” said Glenn Weinberg, vice president of the operations platform group at Sun.

“The release of ZFS to the OpenSolaris project is significant in that the file system offers some features that are not available elsewhere,” O’Grady said. “It won’t change the landscape overnight, as file systems typically have to prove themselvesin a variety of deployment scenarios before they can be considered for production usage, but it’s certainly compelling technically.”

The Sun Containers for Linux Applications technology enables Red Hat applications to run unmodified on Solaris. This enables consolidation of multiple environments onto a single platform, according to Sun. This technology will be added to OpenSolaris by the end of this year.

The ability to run other versions of Linux, such as Suse, also is expected eventually, Weinberg said.

“[The containers technology] will be more compelling in so-called win-back scenarios, i.e., getting customers who’ve defected to Red Hat to come back to Solaris. I don’t anticipate it being a first-choice option for customers in production deployment scenarios,” O’Grady said.

Sun also said it is participating in the Xen project, which is an open source effort to develop virtualization technologies that allow multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on a single computer. The company on Thursday said it demonstrated Solaris 10 running in this virtualized environment and that Xen will be added to Solaris in 2006.

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