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Sun promises lower costs on Solaris 10

Cliff Saran
Sun launches its long-awaited update to the Solaris Unix operating system this week, promising it will lower users' IT costs and ease systems management.

The operating systems offers server virtualisation, real-time troubleshooting and ZFS, a new file system that can simplify storage management. Sun has included a predictive self-healing feature for recovering from application and hardware failures.

Sun has also reworked its implementation of networking in Solaris 10 to improve the performance of the networking protocol TCP/IP.

It has tackled server consolidation through a Solaris 10 feature dubbed Solaris Containers, which the company said isolated applications running on the OS. Each application could be given a private environment, virtually eliminating error propagation, unauthorised access and unintentional intrusion, Sun said.

Optimisation is achieved through DTrace, a tool for fine-tuning applications for performance and troubleshooting production systems. The DTrace tool gives IT admin staff visibility into the Solaris kernel and application activity, Sun said.

Analyst group Forrester Research said the combination of Solaris 10 and new low-cost hardware would make it more attractive for Sun customers to remain with the supplier.

"The benefits to Sun customers are significant. Sun users have more flexible options for consolidation with containers, the opportunity to easily optimise their applications and to jump to a commodity hardware price-performance curve with AMD-based systems," Forrester said.

Forrester recommended that users considering migrating from Sun, either to reduce cost or to gain greater performance improvement, should evaluate what Sun can offer thanks to the tie-up with Fujitsu-Siemens and AMD earlier in the year.

Sun has been facing stiff competition, both at the high end from rivals Hewlett-Packard and IBM, and at the low end from Microsoft, according to Dan Kusnetzky, a vice-president at analyst group IDC.

Microsoft is targeting Unix users with Windows as a low-cost alterative to expensive Unix hardware and, at the high end, Kusnetzky said Linux was gaining acceptance in high-performance computing applications and as a server environment for network and distributed systems.

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