New OpenSolaris: Faster And Better

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Sun’s new OpenSolaris 2009.06 is faster – and has better networking thanks to Project Crossbow

Sun Microsystems says the new version of its OpenSolaris operating system will have better networking, storage and virtualisation – and performance.

OpenSolaris 2009.06, launched at the CommunityOne in San Francisco and available for download, delivers new features in networking, storage and virtualisation, along with significant performance enhancements and developer productivity updates, said John Fowler, executive vice president for systems at Sun, who spoke during the event’s opening keynote session. Central to the new release is the inclusion of Project Crossbow, a new networking technology, according to Fowler.

“Building on a strong tradition of enterprise computing, OpenSolaris 2009.06 delivers advanced networking capabilities, world-record performance and best-in-class virtualisation features built directly into the operating system,” Fowler said. “This preview of the next generation of Solaris demonstrates Sun has the leading platform designed for the latest hardware technologies that power scalable and secure multithreaded applications in a virtualised and networked world.”

Sun officials said Crossbow’s rearchitecture of the network stack would become the new standard for how networking at the operating system level is done, and prove a worthy successor to Sun’s ZFS technology, which Sun officials said had “reinvented the fundamental concept of file systems”.

Crossbow delivers the networking capability designed for virtualisation in combination with highly scaled, multiple-core, multithreaded processors connected with extremely fast network interfaces.

Project Crossbow’s virtual network interfaces provide full resource management to simplify administration of complex deployments of multitiered applications on a single machine or an entire data center, Sun said. Combined with the ability to scale the workload of single or multiple network interfaces across multiple core and processor systems, up to the largest systems available in the world today, customers can increase network efficiency and performance.

ZFS gets better, too

In addition, OpenSolaris 2009.06 provides dozens of enhancements to ZFS and encompasses it with a complete architecture of connectivity and protocol support. New, fully integrated flash storage support in ZFS helps to optimize large-scale pools of very high-performance storage by designating flash devices as write accelerators and read accelerators, the company said. These pools are automatically managed by ZFS to achieve extreme levels of performance across many workloads, making the need for small caches on RAID controllers obsolete.

“We’ve taken ZFS, and we took away all the limits that have been around for years,” said Mike Hahn, a Sun distinguished engineer focusing on storage. “With ZFS we skipped the 64-bit file system and went right straight away to the 128-bit file system. And that takes away all the false limits off the table.”
Moreover, Shapiro said, “Flash is the most important thing to come out in storage in 50 years, so we made OpenSolaris capable of managing a variety of different flash devices.”

Native support for Microsoft Common Internet File System (CIFS) has been added as a full peer to NFS, as a high-performance kernel with integrated features and support for Microsoft Windows semantics for security, naming and access rights, allowing transparent use and sharing of files across Windows, Linux and Solaris environments, Sun said. And to round out the complete storage capability, Sun has designed new, very high-performance support for iSCSI and Fibre Channel block protocols into the Solaris kernel, allowing systems running OpenSolaris to participate as a client and a target for virtually any storage topology, the company said.

All of these storage features are integrated into the Solaris platform and take full advantage of its core functionality, including fault management, networking, multithreaded scaling, performance, security and resource management capabilities, Sun said.

Sun has expanded its SunSpectrum service portfolio to include yearly OpenSolaris subscriptions, providing global enterprise-level assistance that scales from the developer to the data center with Sun’s comprehensive global support—and proactive online and telephone services.

Meanwhile, the latest version of JavaFX, Sun’s extension to the Java platform that enables developers to create rich Internet applications (RIA), is available on OpenSolaris with NetBeans and Eclipse support for developers, Fowler said.

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