Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why Is Solaris Missing the Party?

I just spent several hours in a fruitless quest to figure out if there's a way to run Solaris 10 on Amazon. Fruitless is the right word because "real" Solaris operating systems do not seem to be supported other than through QEMU emulation, which looks a bit shaky. So far there's only OpenSolaris.

Why is this a problem? Our company, Continuent, is moving at full speed onto Amazon S3 and EC2. We have a virtual organization with developers spread out from California to Lithuania. Amazon solves a really fundamental problem for us. We can have development machines that everyone can reach easily and activate or deactivate at will. Scott in Santa Cruz does not have to call Seppo in Helsinki just to get a host rebooted. (This is where globalization starts to go really bad.) We are also developing software like Tungsten Replicator that needs to run in cloud environments. Being on Amazon makes sense at multiple levels.

The fly in the ointment is that many of our customers use Solaris 9 and 10. The OpenSolaris instances on Amazon are essentially useless. OpenSolaris is so different from production Solaris that tests give little or no useful information. I have never heard of a customer deploying on it. So we are stuck on the old model of keeping machines in house. As a result Linux and even Windows look cheaper and involve far less hassle as development platforms.

It feels as if Sun is really missing the boat on this one. If I were working for the Solaris team, getting Solaris for Intel available on Amazon would be at the top of my list. If enough IT people start to make the calculations we are, the future of Solaris is not going to be very bright. That would be a pity both for Sun as well as a lot of users.


Mark Callaghan said...

The answer is ...., now if only it would launch.

Robert Hodges said...

Thanks, I'll be watching. However, Sun should really get serious about Amazon as well. Offering OpenSolaris just seems like marketing.

Robert Hodges said...

p.s., It can't come fast enough. Scott just had to send mail to Helsinki again few minutes ago.

ollie said...

Regarding your comment:

"OpenSolaris is so different from production Solaris that tests give little or no useful information. I have never heard of a customer deploying on it."

I'm actually hoping to test out your replication tech on that platform in the next few months (with Oracle XE). Will it be a supported platform?

And just FYI I have just been looking at one company betting the farm on that particular OS - have a read

Robert Hodges said...

We'll support OpenSolaris if people want it. I'm glad to hear it's being used.

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