April 24, 2001, 10:10 AM — Sun Microsystems released an update to its widely used Solaris 8 operating
system Monday, adding several tools designed to simplify the management of large
numbers of servers.
Solaris, a flavor of the Unix OS developed by Sun, sits on many of the
high-powered servers running the Internet.
The additions to the Solaris OS come on the same day as the unveiling of IBM
Corp.'s new version of its own Unix software. IBM's AIX 5L Version 5.1 is an
attempt to bridge a gap between AIX and the Linux OS. IBM has now made Linux
software more manageable and easier to use on AIX, according to an IBM spokesman.
Among the features announced today for Solaris were improvements to its Web
Start Flash technology. The most important is the capability to transfer single
server configurations onto other machines. Administrators can replicate a reference
server configuration onto multiple servers in less time than is currently required,
according to a Sun statement. The base configuration can include not only the
Solaris OS but also an application stack and system configuration. The Web Start
Flash tools also allow users to roll out needed updates or changes across a
number of servers in one, consolidated action.
Sun has had Web Start Flash for a few years, but this version is the first
to give users the ability to make changes across multiple servers. One analyst
saw the move as an effort to improve upon the company's systems management tools,
which he said are somewhat lacking.
"Historically, Sun has not focused a lot on ease of use," said Tony
Iams, senior analyst at D.H. Brown Associates in Port Chester, New York.
"They are beefing up Solaris in stages and decided to focus on software
With Web Start Flash, users will find many of the software installation features
that typically appear on a desktop, including installation wizards that help
guide a user throughout the process of installing new applications.
The new version of Solaris also comes with several tools for working with mobile
IP (Internet Protocol). Sun has added reverse tunneling technology to make it
possible for remote workers and telecommuters to access and transmit information
securely. Sun has been active with bringing wireless add-ons to both its software
and hardware for some time and is ahead of the curve in the mobile space, according
"Sun has a head start of several years over its competitors," Iams
said. "IBM has made some good strides but will still have to play catch
Some Sun customers agreed that while a company like Microsoft Corp. may provide
cheaper, easier to use software, Sun's advantage over Microsoft's operating
systems is in the stability of its products.