Sun Microsystems unveils new version of OpenSolaris

SAN FRANCISCO – Sun Microsystems Corp. announced the release of the newest version of its OpenSolaris operating system v. 2009.06, which will also serve as the preview release for the next major Solaris update for enterprises.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company wants to extend the capabilities of OpenSolaris such that when enterprises think of emerging applications and hardware whether SPARC, AMD Inc. or Intel Corp., they will consider the open source platform.

Sun’s executive vice-president for systems, John Fowler, said enterprises running mission-critical applications like ERPs and CRMs can use version 2009.06 “as their way to learn and get a step up on the technology that will become the foundation of the broad base next major release of Solaris.” The current Solaris operating system stands at version 10.

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The latest version of Sun Microsystems’ open source operating system was announced at CommunityOne, Sun Microsystems’ annual open developer conference, the day before JavaOne is scheduled to begin. The conference takes place less than two months after Oracle Corp. said it plans to acquire the company.

Fowler said the new version is designed to be the operating system of choice from the desktop to the data centre and “able to run systems down to a single core up to thousands of cores, terabytes of memory, thousands of I/O devices with proven data integrity and security.”

The new version includes SourceJuicer so developers can submit packages to the repository of code and have them validated and promoted by the community. There are enhancements to technologies like ZFS and detrace for instrumenting software applications while in production, and open networking.

OpenSolaris was mostly adopted by developers who then brought it into the enterprise, but now, according to Sun Microsystems, the operating system is experiencing an uptick in the corporate sphere. It’s a trend that prompted the company to, with this release, alter the business model to a full five-year support lifecycle to help enterprises make the move from Solaris 10 to OpenSolaris should they choose.

“You can pick one today, and as the technology grows, if you want to adopt a new platform, you can mix and match,” said Charlie Boyle, director of Solaris product marketing.

“Just because it’s open doesn’t mean that it’s low quality, scary, edgy technology,” said Boyle, adding that the same quality process is applied to both Solaris and OpenSolaris. But while Sun Microsystems is pushing its open source operating system, Boyle said the company is “not defocusing on what makes Solaris great.”

The company is still on track to make available this summer its Sun Open Cloud, an open platform designed to power public and private clouds using Java, MySQL, OpenSolaris and Open Storage.

“Open source is a real foundation piece of cloud computing today,” said Lew Tucker, Sun’s cloud chief technology officer. “Open source software has made cloud computing possible.”

Later at a panel discussion, Ray Valdes, research director with Gartner Inc., noted that a key part of cloud computing, as defined by the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm, is “elasticity” or scalable support, such that a developer can place an application in the cloud and have it scale and “to varying degrees, you can forget about it.”

But the question, he argued, is how to attain “true cloud computing” where a customer is not merely outsourcing their infrastructure to a server underneath another person’s desk. To that, Tucker said he wants to see more “exploration” before the industry settles on a strict definition of requirements that would illustrate cloud computing.

JavaOne runs Tuesday through Friday this week.

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