Sun adds to Solaris to meet customer demand

Sun Microsystems Inc. is adding an advanced, more powerful 128-bit ZFS file system, new virtualization technologies and the Postgres open-source database to its Solaris 10 Unix operating system, as the company looks to build market share and meet customer demands.

Also key to Sun's latest move is the addition of 'container' technologies that allow users to run applications designed for Red Hat Linux on top of Solaris using segmented containers. The containers allow Linux binaries to run unmodified inside a secure environment, according to Sun. Similar features, such as the lxrun utility, have been included in Solaris in the past, but the new containers are designed to make the process easier and more seamless.

In an announcement Thursday, Sun said the new features will be integrated into Solaris 10 next year, though some will be available in software updates by the end of this year.

At a news conference to unveil the features, John Loiacano, executive vice president of software at Sun, said the company hopes to counter past objections to Solaris from customers, including its proprietary legacy, limited hardware support and the limited application availability from independent software vendors. 'We really tried to attack these one by one,' Loiacano said. In June, Sun unveiled OpenSolaris, an open-source version of its longtime Unix operating system. The new features will also be readied for use in OpenSolaris by the end of this year.

The 128-bit ZFS file system, which bolsters data integrity, is a milestone for Sun because of its increased reliability over existing file systems, said Glenn Weinberg, vice president of Sun's operating platforms group. At the same time, ZFS reduces file system complexity for systems administrators by automating the addition of disk space into a system. 'All of the information in the file system is protected,' Weinberg said. 'You don't have to think about what's underneath.'

ZFS marks the first new file system for Solaris since 1981, when the UFF file system was developed. ZFS is available for OpenSolaris immediately and will be available for Solaris 10 next month through Sun's software maintenance program. The file system will be fully integrated into the release version of Solaris 10 by May.