The long-running quest to put OpenSolaris on z may have finally come to a sudden, although not unexpected, end. David Boyes of Sine Nominee Associates, the primary driver behind the effort, dubbed Project Systemz, by the open source OpenSolaris on z community wrote in a recent message on the opensolaris on z listserve: “They (Oracle) withdrew technical and equipment support from the project, and without that, I don’t think there’s much point in continuing.”
Boyes goes on to say, “Without that support (or at least tacit support), we’ll never get the other pieces merged in to complete the commercial services that are part of commercial Solaris, and without that, OpenSolaris for z won’t ever be more than a toy. I can’t in all conscience continue to pour resources (money and personnel) into the project unless it’s going to amount to something.”
Sounds like the end, right? Well, maybe not. In a phone call Boyes insisted that final decisions hadn’t been made, that pressure from Oracle customers especially might get the company to change its mind. He suggests as much in his message to the OpenSolaris for z community. This seems like the equivalent to saving Tinkerbell in Peter Pan (Clap your hands and say, ‘I believe in fairies!’ )
The systemz project, also known as “Sirius,” is a port of OpenSolaris to the IBM System z mainframe operating in z/VM mode. This blog has written about it previously and referenced it numerous times.
In a phone interview this past fall, IBM executives completely washed their hands of OpenSolaris for z saying they won’t support it or recruit ISVs to port Solaris applications to OpenSolaris for z. No customer demand, no ecosystem; it’s dead as far as they are concerned. IBM’s strategy for expanding workloads on z currently revolves around Linux on z, WebSphere, and Cognos for Linux on z, especially supported by the Solution Editions for z program.
Even Boyes realizes this in his message to the community: Without “at least some active cooperation by the Two Powers [Oracle, IBM]” this can’t happen. Yet, he continues to try to save Tinkerbell, encouraging OpenSolaris for z proponents to “Send those cards and letters, folks — and call your Oracle reps. If you’re an IBMer, contact your internal Oracle rep and your System z organization contacts.”
The few positive signs are pretty slight. “IBM has made available a zPDT license (a System Z emulator application running on Intel hardware that can legally be licensed for z/VM and other IBM software) to the project,” he reports. However, he still doesn’t have a beefy enough server to run it on.
In truth, Oracle has no incentive to allow IBM another way to attract Solaris workloads away from the Sun hardware platform it now owns. IBM is committed to using Linux as the vehicle to attract Sun customers to the System z and the System p. They don’t see a big enough payoff in developing the infrastructure to support another platform, OpenSolaris for z.
In the end, Boyes seems to agree: “We think there’s still merit in the work, but it’s hard to justify taking me and Neale away from billable work for this sort of thing if no one cares about it enough to say they want it to the powers that be. Research funding only goes so far; at some point we have to pay the rent too.” The real problem: the powers that be don’t care how much you clap for Tinkerbell.