Two Solaris advantages

Two Solaris advantages

Summary: Sun's Solaris offers IBM one very important feature that AIX cannot -- a mature Intel port. (See David Berlind's "Predictions of Solaris' death were obviously premature.

TOPICS: Open Source

Sun's Solaris offers IBM one very important feature that AIX cannot -- a mature Intel port. (See David Berlind's "Predictions of Solaris' death were obviously premature." This makes Solaris suitable for any and all users, no matter how small or how large. For all of its strengths, Linux simply cannot make the claim of scalability -- especially for the enterprise needing the power of 'big iron' to do the job. No other modern OS is as scalable or as mature (including AIX.) Oh, and there's that other thing ... It's litigation-proof. SCO holds no power whatsoever over Sun Microsystems and its outright ownership of Solaris (their flavor of UNIX with SVR4 roots).

As of right now, all existing AIX licenses are in limbo -- and they may be for years to come. Well, at least until SCO either hits the wall or is bought out by some Linux-tolerant UNIX licensee. (Which, by necessity, includes most UNIX licensees.) Some options are:

  1. SCO loses their case against IBM and keeps appealing until the money runs out. (This could take years but appealing a loss is their only chance for survival.)
  2. They lose their suit with Novell, who is claiming ownership of the UNIX SVR4 code stream. (In which case SCO will quietly fade away -- selling off whatever IP value they still have left.)
  3. They lose their suit with RedHat -- effectively negating any charges of Linux infringement of SVR4 Intellectual Property. (In which case SCO could resume its business of Licensing its version of SVR4 -- but with a crippled relationship with what few customers it has left.)

SCO could also win all three of these suits but judging buy the evidence presented so far, this seems pretty unlikely. In any event, it is hard to picture a rosy future for SCO. Yes, a triple-play victory means that IBM and the others are poorer and that SCO's lawyers are richer but it doesn't mean much else. Sure IBM, could decide to pay whatever it takes to get back its rescinded AIX licenses but, with Solaris in its stable, it could also decide to abandon AIX altogether. With a dwindling customer base, all SCO gets out of even a huge victory is a few dollars with which to sue others or otherwise bargain for a better sale price. Since The Open Group (not SCO) owns the UNIX specification, the SVR4 code stream is of limited value.

Back to the point though. This is a win-win for Sun and for IBM. I recently listened to Schwartz in one of your podcasts and he seems very much to be Scott McNealy's alter ego -- just as Steve Ballmer is Bill Gates' alter ego. Both of these level-headed men will keep their respective companies competing for years to come. I am not at all surprised that Schwartz took the high road in his blog -- or that IBM is taking those steps that will continue to permit it to provide a wide range of services to its customers -- large or small -- no matter what the fate of AIX or Linux turns out to be.

Topic: Open Source

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  • IBM and Sun.

    The competition between IBM and Sun is more natural than that between Sun and Microsoft. Both make hardware. And IBM has been encroaching on Sun's share of the market for years.

    So I wouldn't make too much of the grudging accommodation between the two companies.

    As examples of the type of co-operation being discussed, here are a couple of quotes from past ZDNet articles:

    On BladeCenter servers:

    IBM confirmed the move in a statement, saying Sun is among more than 700 partners in the "BladeCenter ecosystem" and that as an operating system option, Solaris joins Windows, Linux for x86 and Power chips, and IBM's AIX version of Unix.
    IBM won't sell Solaris or support for the operating system to customers, IBM said. Anyone interested will have to purchase the software and support from Sun.

    And here on porting to Solaris:

    Big Blue will bring versions of its WebSphere Java software, DB2 database, Rational developer tools and Tivoli management tools to Solaris for x86. IBM already supports Solaris on computers with Sun's Sparc processors, but decided to create the x86 version based on customer demand, Steve Mills, a senior vice president in IBM's software group, said in a statement. IBM will support Sun's latest version 10 of Solaris for x86 and Sparc.
    The moves signal a measure of detente between Sun and IBM. The companies are fierce rivals when it comes to the powerful networked computers called servers, so it's not surprising IBM wasn't the first to sign up to support Sun's effort to spread its operating system more broadly from its own Sparc processors to x86 chips. But the companies buried at least one hatchet.

    I expect that the "customer demand" reference means that IBM will support Solaris when the customer already has the operating system. But it won't be recommending Solaris.
    I'd be surprised if IBM gave up selling AIX because the company believed Solaris was better software.

    I suspect also that IBM has been more willing to acknowledge Solaris now that Sun has open-sourced it.
    If you want to destroy a business rival, you don't increase its revenues. But now that Sun has surrendered its revenues on the software, IBM doesn't have to care.

    And IBM waits anxiously for Sun to surrender ownership of Java to them. If a rival is going to self-destruct, it's not necessary to be encouraging.

    If Sun bankrupts, IBM won't have to buy any of the remnants. They'll already have everything of value on the software side.
    Anton Philidor
    • W#hat is more likely, IBM will open source AIX

      The fact is, Solaris is plain better than Linux by miles and is better than AIX in large installs. Note how when Sun said they are going to work with (support) an open source data base IBM turns around and says they are going to give away a lite version of DB2. Can AIX be far behind?
      • Doubtful; IBM sells AIX...

        ... when people drawn in by a bid including Linux discover that Linux is insufficient for their purposes. Classic bait-and-switch.

        Unless IBM can open-source AIX and still charge extravagantly for it, I doubt IBM will risk losing potential revenues. We're talking about IBM, not Sun here.
        Though IBM could imitate Red Hat I suppose, and sell the software at high prices while calling the charge "services". But why be that complicated?
        Anton Philidor
        • Bait and switch

          IBM is THE expert at bait and switch. This Linux "thing" is just a loss leader. It gets IBM in the door, and then they REALLY start selling! If anyone uses IBM and low-cost in the same sentence - elect them to government!

          My favorite - the $1000 power cable for the p690! Almost as good as the front rack door - for $5000 (back door is an extra $4000). So, do you sell an entire X-series server for 20 grand - or JUST THE BOX of the p690?
          Roger Ramjet
      • Not until SCO is through with them

        AIX will not be open-sourced as long as its under litigation. IBM does NOT have the same UNIX license that Sun has - Sun bought a full license BEFORE Novell sold it to SCO. IBM never bought that "full" license.

        Solaris is NOT the best UNIX on the market today. That distinction goes to HP-UX, which has had the same code-stream since the 80's. HP-UX is more mature and works FASTER, but since they re-write OS code to hit the kernel for speed - they fall behind in versions. Their NFS was WAY behind the times until recently - all because they just don't re-compile the reference source from Sun, they tweek it for kernel speed increases.

        HP-UX tools are also more mature. IgniteUX and SAM are VERY nice tools. Better than bailing-wire and twine jumpstart!

        HP is also willing to support other OSes and hardware. HP (used to) support all servers for Company "F", and now has the hardware service contract for Sun and HP equipment. This may give HP the edge, since they don't play favorites - they just get the contract.
        Roger Ramjet
        • While not dead HP-UX is not getting attention.

          HP hasn't completely killed it, but they are starving it to death. That's a shame...

          By the way, you are certainly entiled to your opinion but every real *nix person I know says Solaris is simply the best *nix on the planet.
          • :)

            There's as many Sun biggots in UNIX land as there are Windoze biggots in PC land . . .
            Roger Ramjet
      • can't do it

        IBM can't open source AIX. AIX includes a lot of SVR4 code that it licensed and that can't be open sourced.
        • They don't need to.

          But they do need a UNIX product which could act as a suitable replacement for Linux-- should Linux be declared infringing upon SVR4. Without a UNIX product at the low end, IBM is vulnerable if Linux stumbles -- now or in the future. With Solaris, IBM can move forward unencumbered.
          M Wagner
  • Linux not scalable?!?

    "For all of its strengths, Linux simply cannot make the claim of scalability ? especially for the enterprise needing the power of 'big iron' to do the job."

    Last I checked, Linux ran on IBM mainframes:

    And last I checked, Linux powers the top supercomputers in the world. Choose "Operating System Family in the drop-down:

    Please get with it and deliver facts not FUD. This is really harmful to your credibility as a tech journalist.
    • Whoa dude, your ignorance is showing.

      Linux is in no way shape or form as scalable as Solaris. It isn't even close. Don't take my word for it, ask any real *nix person running big iron and see what they teach you.

      By the way, even IBM admits this freely and tells customers there is a point Linux fails and they need to upgrade to AIX.
      • Dude, be careful with your claims

        Unless you can back them up, you shouldn't make them. I provided some links to info. Where are yours?
      • Apples and Oranges?

        Linux is good at HORIZONTAL scaling - that's what grids are good at. Linux sux at VERTICAL scaling - you rarely see a Linux box with more than 8 cpus, while a SunFire server can have over 100.
        Roger Ramjet
    • I stand by my statement ...

      The needs of massively parallel supercomputing are not the same as those of database transaction processing. Large numbers of x86 processors can often meet the needs of researchers running batch proccesses over long periods of time to solve complex problems. In this case, the high-performance RISC processor might still offer better performance but in a budget constrained environment, it may not be the the most cost-effective solution.

      In a real-time database transaction processing environment, one does not have the luxury of letting an application take 'as long as it takes' to complete. In this environment, high-performance RISC processing is a must and a robust, highly-efficient rock-solid OS is absolutely essential.
      M Wagner