Sun aims Solaris 8 at enterprises, providers

Sun Microsystems Inc. is bolstering Solaris 8 with improved uptime and scalability.

Sun Microsystems Inc. is bolstering Solaris 8 with improved uptime and scalability.

With a beta version of the operating system upgrade—called Early Access—due late this month and the final product due next February, Sun officials said last week the company has added features designed for enterprise and service provider customers.

For example, a feature called Live Upgrade enables administrators to partition a server and install the new version while the old Solaris server is still running on the other side of the partition, officials said.

The process works in reverse as well. IT departments can remove Solaris 8 Early Access after having tested it while keeping the old Solaris version running.

Another new feature, hot patching of the kernel, allows the system to stay up even while modifications to the operating system kernel are made.

The upgrade also supports IP Version 6 and will run IP Version 6 alongside servers that run IP Version 4, officials said.

For improved scalability, Sun plans to support eight-node clustering with Solaris 8, although not upon initial shipment. Sun officials in Palo Alto, Calif., said that feature would be available "some time after general availability."

They also promised that 98 percent of applications that run on Solaris 7 will run on the new version.

While two competitors—Microsoft Corp. and Novell Inc.—have directories closely aligned or integrated with their operating systems, Sun does not. The company has been moving toward using Lightweight Directory Access Protocol for directory support, but Solaris Group Manager Tom Gougen would not comment on whether Sun will integrate Netscape Communications Corp.'s Netscape Directory Server into Solaris.

Sun officials said last summer that the company would integrate Netscape's directory, now called the iPlanet directory service, according to Jamie Lewis, an Atlanta-based analyst with The Burton Group.

"It makes sense," Lewis said. "Novell has its directory on NetWare, and obviously Active Directory is a big part of Windows 2000. Solaris could use that."

Sun will mirror Microsoft's decision earlier this year to charge for a beta of the operating system. In this case, Early Access will cost $19.99. Microsoft offered customers Windows 2000 Beta 3 for $60 under a Corporate Preview Program.

Pricing for the shipping version of Solaris 8 has not been set.