By Forrester Research
Special to CNET News.com
November 15, 2004, 8:15AM PT
by Richard Fichera, Vice President
Operating systems are like fine wines, with some releases being better than others.
Solaris 10, Sun's long-awaited upgrade to its Solaris operating system, looks to be the best vintage since Solaris 2.6, a release
Forrester strongly recommends that current Sun users contemplating a migration to Linux evaluate Solaris 10 on AMD Opteron-based systems and that all current Solaris users evaluate the potential benefits of upgrading to Solaris 10.
Solaris 10 is the culmination of several successive releases of Solaris, some of which laid the groundwork for the new release but did not deliver impressive new user-visible functions or benefits other than support for new hardware. With Solaris 10, Sun brings together several streams of development in a product that offers solid value to customers.
Containers create a private, isolated execution space for each application within the context of a single master operating system instance, each with its own local variables and proxy copies of global variables, IP address, security permissions, file system view and so on. Sun claims that in addition to being lightweight in terms of resource overhead, containers are also extremely dynamic, capable of being created in under 10 seconds. Resource allocation is granular, in single-digit percentages of CPU, physical memory and I/O. Containers are managed by the Solaris Container Manager, which creates and deletes containers and defines container resource policies.
Containers remedy a significant deficit of Sun relative to Hewlett-Packard and IBM, and the combination of hardware partitions and containers offers users considerable flexibility in deciding on how to host multiple applications on a single system. The competitive environment surrounding operating system virtualization is getting complex and includes fully virtualized operating system image technology, such as VMware, Microsoft Virtual Server, IBM and HP virtual operating system technology, and technologies such as Sun Solaris containers and Softricity, which provide secure proxy namespaces running on top of a single operating system image. The former approach offers--in theory--better isolation, while the latter offers the convenience and cost of only managing a single copy of the operating system, because all the virtual partitions run under a single OS instance.
Containers also offer a tangible value add for Linux users, because a Linux program can run inside a Solaris 10 Container, either as an isolated application or alongside a Solaris application.
To the best of our knowledge, this is a unique capability in the industry. DTrace is also a major tangible value-add for Linux, since it can be used to analyze a Linux program running under Solaris.
ZFS file system
Linux runtime environment
AMD system support
Benefit to Sun's customers
© 2004, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.