Sun's Loiacono Outlines Solaris Road Map

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In an eWEEK interview, the Sun exec says he sees Solaris, Linux, Java and even Windows coexisting.

Sun Microsystems Inc. executives will take the stage in New York this week to display Solaris 10, the next version of that operating environment; clarify the vision for the product; and define the rationale for moving it to open source. John Loiacono, the Santa Clara, Calif., company's executive vice president for software, spoke to eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli before the event about Solaris 10.

What is behind your strategy of supporting both Linux and Solaris?

We have said that we are going to maintain our investment in Solaris, and some people have taken that to mean we were going after Linux and will try to crush it. My position is that customers make architectural decisions, be it Linux or Solaris or Windows or Nacona or Opteron or SPARC. My job is to give them the most compelling opportunities.

The reason we have both Solaris and Linux is that I don't control the Linux [intellectual property], which limits my ability to innovate. While Solaris is part of our crown jewels, the real crown jewel is Java, and we are trying to push people to write to Java so it doesn't matter what operating system you have.

So are you saying that Sun is embracing Solaris and Linux equally?

What I'm saying is that it's not an issue of Solaris versus Linux for us. I think Linux is great. If I didn't, I wouldn't spend the time and effort to take my entire middleware portfolio and port it to Linux. I wouldn't take my entire desktop development and port it to Linux, and I wouldn't port all my tools and my management framework. I wouldn't do all that on Linux if I didn't think it was going to be around.

My intent with Solaris is to make it the most compelling aggregation of all environments—Linux, Windows, Solaris, other Unix—as I possibly can. So, what am I doing? The "Janus" technology we have under development will allow users to run Linux-based applications on Solaris unmodified, unrecompiled, with less than 5 percent overhead. I am also now taking a lot of the open-source Solaris technologies that people don't know about and incorporating these into Solaris 10. Sun also now has a deal with Microsoft [Corp.], and we are focusing on ensuring interoperability between key technologies. I can now integrate a lot of the component pieces because I have a unique relationship with Microsoft.

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So how do you differentiate Solaris from Linux?

Customers like Linux because they see it as cheap and helping them lower their costs. Developers like Linux because it is open- source. So I'm trying to take the objections to Solaris off the table one by one. Solaris now runs on 230 non-Sun-branded hardware platforms. We have over 1,100 applications. The price has been lowered dramatically, and there will be even-more-disruptive pricing mechanisms applied to Solaris. ...

I'm trying to make Solaris a superstack. I'm not saying I'm trying to merge all the code, but what I am saying is that if you find value in Linux, I'll offer those attributes so you don't have to sacrifice by picking Solaris. If you find value in Windows using an application, if you find value in Solaris, I want to merge those together.

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