What used to be called OpenSolaris is now IllumOS, and efforts to complete the port of OpenSolaris to the System z are ramping up in earnest after months of inaction. While the Solaris on z effort was on hold, disrupted by Oracle’s acquisition on Sun, the zEnterprise arrived with the zBX. The new mainframe now was being positioned as a hybrid machine, able to handle multiple platforms and operating systems. Once that genie is out of the bottle potentially anything is possible.
Last March it looked like the end of Solaris on z. DancingDinosaur reported it here. To bring it back from the dead the OpenSolaris community needed a company or two to put some resources behind the effort.
That should have been IBM, but IBM blows both hot and cold on the question of Solaris on z. “It really depends on who you are talking with at IBM,” David Boyes told DancingDinosaur recently. Boyes is the person who drove the OpenSolaris on z project at Sine Nomine and is now involved in the System z version of IllumOS.
Nexanta, primarily a storage company, stepped up along with others to back the OpenSolaris effort in the form of IllumOS. Check out the IllumOS project community here. IllumOS now will become a truly open source version of Solaris completely free of any proprietary Sun ties and the z as one of the target platforms.
Every quarter IBM rolls out the tally of its System z platform conquests: this many Sun customers migrated to z, some number of HP customers migrated to z. Often those migrations go from Solaris or HP UX to Linux on z. No doubt it is a smart move. One wonders, however, how many more Sun shops would jump to the z if they could run their SPARC Solaris applications on z too. There were at least two companies DancingDinosaur had spoken with interested in that so there must be more.
IllumOS for z, as was the case with OpenSolaris on z, lets SPARC Solaris applications run on the z. It was working before the merger although not quite ready for production usage out of the box. DancingDinosaur tracked down one large New York bank piloting it. They couldn’t or wouldn’t talk then. At that time OpenSolaris on z still used some proprietary Sun code. Now the IllumOS team is replacing all the proprietary pieces, such as crypto and some drivers, with true open source code.
The IllumOS community has other targets than just the System z. One big focus is the x86 platform. The zBX takes IBM x86 blades. IBM has done everything but officially announce Windows on x86 blades on the zBX. In an interview with The Register IBM fellow Jeffrey Frey essentially laid out the networking scheme–much like it was described to analysts at the zEnterprise launch in July–to make Windows on x86 blades as well as other blades work seamlessly with the z. So, why not IllumOS on either z or zBX x86 blades or both?
The business case for Solaris on z, whether directly or through the zBX and x86 blades, is about ensuring a future for an organization’s important SPARC Solaris applications. The SPARC platform seems to be going nowhere with Oracle, and the System z offers an industry leading platform in terms of feeds and speeds with a solid future going forward. Migrating their SPARC Solaris applications to IllumOS (Solaris on z) has to be easier and more appealing than migrating them to Linux, Windows, HP-UX or even AIX.
OpenSolaris on z is gone, but open IllumOS is coming for the z and x86.