A Look Behind the Solaris 8.0 Curtain

FRAMINGHAM (01/28/2000) - Features touted by Sun Microsystems Inc. in Solaris 8.0 include the following:

-- Automatic dynamic reconfiguration, for building partitions within the Unix operating system to automatically reallocate processors into areas that need them.

"It's a pretty slick technology that all the other competitors would like to have," said Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H.

"It's a nice technology to have, in particular at a large service provider or a large dot-com."

"We sell 24 hours a day and have customers in France, Germany - all over the world. [Automatic dynamic reconfiguration] maximizes your investment," said Gordon Jones, CIO at Beyond.com Corp. in Santa Clara, Calif., which uses Sun servers running Solaris 7.0.

-- A hot-patching capability that allows developers to make changes to the code of a running Unix kernel. "To be able to upgrade and reconfigure the site without shutting down provides much greater availability of the Web site," said Joe Chung, chief technology officer at Art Technology Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.

But Eunice has words of caution. "It's a dangerous feature," he said. "If you're a shop that needs high availability, do not change the kernel while it's running. If that update fails, it can corrupt everything. It's one of those theories that is absolutely delightful, but if you have an operational discipline, you're probably not going to let it be used."

-- Live upgrade, on the other hand, got a gold star from Eunice, who hasn't seen other vendors offer a utility for installing and reconfiguring new versions of the operating system as the current system runs. The alternative, a "rolling upgrade" requires an environment of clustered servers and has been used for many years, he said.

"It's a nice little incremental upgrade," Eunice said. "They've had 60% to 70% of these features for some years."

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