Solaris and Sparc roadmaps unveiled

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Oracle plans to boost the Solaris operating system to match the sheer power of the Sun servers it will drive.

This was the long-awaited message from John Fowler, the executive vice president in charge of Oracle's new server and storage systems group.

Formerly Sun Microsystems, the new Oracle division has been ominously quiet since the merger was finalised earlier this year.

The retention of Fowler in the role he played at Sun has been the one flickering hope that business would continue as normal. If there was a growing doubt, he wiped it away with a five-year plan that says business as usual.

Starting with the Sparc processors, he committed to at least a doubling of application performance every two years.

In terms of hardware development, it is not surprising the early stages of the five-year roadmap looked much the same as before . What was not disclosed is whether the company would continue the leapfrogging of the twin lines of T Series Sun-designed platforms and the M Series designed by Fujitsu.

Each company had developed its own Sparc chip in the past, but there had always been rumours one or the other would cease manufacture, leaving the market to the rival. No doubt these rumours will regain currency.

The changes in the 2011 release of Solaris 11 will be extensive. The aim is to produce a lean and mean Unix that can support the higher transaction rates required by the future hardware platforms.

One big change is HP and Sun x86 servers will be allowed to run supported versions of Solaris. This looked like a turnaround by Oracle, because a licensing paper appeared in May implying non-Sun platforms would not be supported.

The main message Oracle was pushing was the benefit of having a dedicated combination of database, operating system and hardware under a single brand. To have one supplier bringing a simplified support framework would be attractive but it would be at least another year before Oracle can prove it has the ability to pull it off.