OpenSolaris on IBM System z Mainframe

I was in Las Vegas on Tuesday, albeit only for a few hours. Didn't have time to lose any money, but I did manage to have some fun with IBM and Sine Nomine Associates.

Sine Nomine Associates, with a little help from IBM and Sun, has made significant process in their port of the OpenSolaris code to IBM's System z mainframe. It just goes to show that when you create an open community, people participate and do all sorts of things that you didn't envision at the start. To be very clear, what was demonstrated was a proof of concept, and neither Sun nor IBM have officially committed to complete or support any eventual full port. However, both IBM and Sun do support the objectives of this proof of concept which include:

  • Addressing environmental and skill issues with server consolidation in modern data centers
  • Demonstrating massive-scale virtualization with combinations of operating environments and workloads in an system designed for efficient virtualization
  • Providing best practices for enabling software and services-based businesses in enterprise accounts without disrupting existing valuable IT services and functions

    The prototype currently runs native System z binaries and does not run Intel or SPARC binaries. It uses the z9 instruction architecture set, uses 64-bit operations only, and implements the full System z architectural definition including 16EB RAM-ready, FCP and traditional System z I/O, virtual and real network I/O capabilities including 802.3ad link aggregation and 10G interfaces. All of which will mean a lot to you if you are a System z mainframe user and even if you are not, certainly sounds impressive.

    The prototype is running the Solaris kernel and device drivers, includes virtual and real resource management routines, and has a functioning C/C++ compiler and library. There are currently a limited number of userspace applications available, but it does include a functionaing shell. The next steps will include full userspace enablement and the code and binaries will be released to the OpenSolaris.org web site.

    So how soon will we see a fully support Solaris OS on System z? Don't know. But we do believe that Solaris on System z will be attractive to customers who want to benefit from and leverage the classic strengths of the System z environment, including high availability, high I/O bandwidth, flexibility to run disparate workloads concurrently, security, and scalability with the matching capabilities of Solaris. The potential for economic and technical gains from physical and virtual consolidation are real, as has been proved out in the x86 space. So stay tuned. Solaris is definitely going into a number of new environments these days, including many we didn't envision just a few short years ago.

    Many thanks to Sine Nomine Associates for their work on this project, and for those of you who don't know Latin, your word of day

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