Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's president and chief operating officer, spoke with Computerworld this week about Solaris 10, the open-source plan and other topics.
In your weblog, you call Solaris 10 "the single biggest improvement we've ever delivered in a commercial operating system." What makes it so?
First and foremost, we have extended to customers the ability to run the same safe, protected and scalable operating system on our existing Unix offerings on Sparc, as well as bringing to them the first truly vendor-neutral operating system that runs across Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun's x86, 64-bit systems.
Second, we've really gone back and revisited the fundamental issues that customers had with their systems. We all know that the old saw is, "The hardware I was running was too expensive, and not only that, I was getting only 15 percent utilization, so therefore I built out a big grid of little x86 systems."
I was with one customer last week who told me they had bought a few thousand IBM BladeCenter xSeries systems, and their server utilization was about 6 percent. Just because you chopped up the utilization problem into smaller units doesn't mean the utilization problem has gone away, which is why we added logical partitioning into Solaris with containers.
Third, there is just an extraordinary investment that we have made in ensuring that we bring an open-source Solaris to the marketplace, a truly vendor-neutral Solaris.
What do you think independent software vendors are going to do with open-source Solaris?
I'm not necessarily convinced it's going to yield a new set of new applications, as much as a new way of interacting with Sun. So, ISVs that want to be able to make enhancements or modifications to their products or the base operating system will have the freedom to do so -- the freedom to innovate.
How will the open-source Solaris development community work? Will you create something similar to OpenOffice.org?
Absolutely. It's critically important for us that we cultivate a very high-integrity relationship with the open-source community, which we have had historically.
What's the time frame for releasing open-source Solaris?
We will have the license announced by the end of this calendar year and the code fully available (by the) first quarter of next year.
Is there anything preventing you from making all of Solaris open-source?
Nothing at all. And let me repeat that. Nothing at all.
Is Solaris in competition with Linux?
No, that's like asking if Solaris is in competition with the open-source movement. Solaris is in competition with Red Hat. Solaris will be as much the open-source movement as anything else. The competition ultimately is going to be had and be seen between companies that have competitive offerings.
One year ago this month, Sun announced a strategic alliance with Advanced Micro Devices to deliver Opteron-based Sun Fire systems. What has this alliance accomplished in the past year?
On the one hand, it's given us a springboard into the US$20 billion-plus x86 server market, with products that have distinct competitive advantages over similar systems from, say, Dell. I question the wisdom of anyone who continues to buy 32-bit x86 systems when you can buy x86 64-bit systems that cost less and run two or three times as fast. In addition to that, there is obviously a very close partnership between the AMD team and the Solaris kernel team, and so we are looking to do co-evolution of the systems.