Sun releases Solaris upgrade with bundled app server

Sun Microsystems on Friday officially released a version of its Solaris operating system that features a bundled application server and runs on Intel x86 hardware.

Solaris 9 12/02 is an incremental update to Sun's Unix OS. Inclusion of the Java-based application server, the Platform Edition of Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) Application Server 7, in Solaris was formally announced last May. But initial plans to do so, revealed informally by a Sun official in a March 2001 article on, set off a momentary selling off of stock in BEA Systems, which thrives on selling Java application servers for Sun systems.

A Sun official on Friday said there were no hard feelings between the two companies regarding Sun's application server bundling.

"Our reason for doing this is to widen the adoption of the J2EE platform. By putting this into Solaris 9, we ensure that every copy of Solaris 9 going out has an application server built into it so people can build and deploy J2EE applications," said Bill Moffitt, product line manager for Solaris.

"At the same time, we make sure [BEA] WebLogic Server 7 is included in the media kit with Solaris, which means people who prefer can simply take out and install the BEA application server," he said.

But Moffitt acknowledged the BEA product only comes with a six-month trial license while the Sun offering has no such time limit. Still, Sun's application server is for single-machine, smaller application deployments, not enterprise-level applications that require functions such as load-balancing and horizontal scaling, Moffitt said.

"What the [BEA] executives I spoke to said was they supported the idea of making the J2EE platform as ubiquitous as possible and getting a rising tide to [raise] all boats. They don't see the Sun ONE Application Server as being that much competition to them. Their market share is much greater than ours," said Moffitt.

An analyst downplayed any rift between Sun and BEA Systems. IBM also has its own application server, WebSphere, despite partners having theirs as well, said Gordon Haff, analyst at Illuminata.

Support for Intel x86 on Solaris is re-established with Version 9 12/02. Despite reports that said Sun was abandoning x86 on Solaris, Moffitt said this was never the case; the project merely was delayed.

The application server, however, does not yet work with the Intel release of Solaris 9 12/02. It will do so in a future release, according to a Sun representative.

Haff said Sparc still remains the primary platform for Solaris. "X86 Intel is not nearly as strategic a platform as Solaris for Sparc; however, it is widely used," he said.

Haff, however, asserted that Sun did indeed want to end the x86 version of Solaris. "There was certainly a school of thought within Sun that said Solaris on Intel wasn't something that was worth bringing forward," Haff said.

Sun in November made available on its Web site an early-access version of its Solaris 9 operating system for Intel-compatible processors. Version 9 12/02 itself has been available for download since last month, but Sun did not announce the OS until Friday, when it became available on digital media.

Also included in Solaris 9 12/02 are enhancements to the logging function in Unix File System (UFS) to boost performance. The logging function is a journaling capability for keeping track of files to minimize downtime when a system shuts down. With the new release there is no longer any performance penalty to pay for keeping the logging function on.

UFS helps Sun better compete against Veritas and its file system, Haff said. Although UFS is included with Solaris and Veritas is not, Veritas has a significant volume on Sun and can use this to then sell its own clustering software for Sun, competing against Sun's own clustering software, Haff said.

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