What is eTude

This week, at Sun's analyst conference in New York City, Rich Green talked about a project we have referred to internally as eTude. So what is eTude and when can you get it? For those of you who missed Rich's talk, let me explain a little about eTude, or the Solaris 8 Migration Assistant, why we developed it, and who should consider using it. In order to describe eTude, I actually have to go into a little background on Sun's virtualization technologies and how they help Solaris users reduce cost and complexity in their data centers. So here we go.

When we initially released Solaris 10 in January 2005, we introduced one of the world's most powerful OS virtualization technologies, Solaris Containers. Solaris has for many years supported running multiple operating system images on high end SPARC enterprise servers with hardware domains. However, long before some of today's popular virtualization companies were even started, Solaris engineers recognized the need to bring virtualization to a much broader class of systems, so we developed Solaris Containers. Solaris Containers runs not only on our high-end SPARC servers, but on any SPARC server, as well as over 800 x86 servers from Sun, IBM, Dell, HP and other vendors.

According to various industry statistics, the average server today runs at somewhere between 5 and 15% capacity. That means you probably have a lot of extra servers sitting around in your data center, happily consuming unnecessary power and cooling. In most cases, however, you can't simply combine the software applications that two servers run onto one server without some sort of virtualization technology. There are a multitude of reasons for this ranging from application and OS constraints to administrative or security reasons. There has been a tremendous amount of information written about Solaris Containers, if you are not familiar with Solaris Containers you should visit the Solaris Container Learning Center before reading on. But the quick summary is that Solaris Containers virtualize the OS, allowing a single Solaris image to support multiple software partitions, or containers, that for the most part appear to any user or application as a separate copy of the OS.

To date, however, Solaris Containers have only supported applications that are already running Solaris 10. So Sun engineers developed something called BrandZ . BrandZ is a framework that extends the Solaris Containers infrastructure to create Branded Containers, which are containers (also called zones) that contain non-native operating environments. The term "non-native" is intentionally vague, as the infrastructure allows for the creation of a wide range of operating environments. So without going into the exact details just yet of how the Solaris 8 Migration Assistant works, it does utilize the BrandZ technology in Solaris to allow Solaris 8 applications to run in a Solaris 10 container. While many Solaris 8 customers have already completely migrated to Solaris 10, in part because of the legendary reliability of SPARC servers and in part because of our long term support model, we still have many customers running old Solaris 8 applications. Sometimes those apps are planned for near-term retirement and it doesn't make sense to migrate them fully to Solaris 10. In other cases the customer plans to migrate the application but has a shorter term need to reduce cost and complexity and would like to consolidate an older Solaris 8 app onto a newer, more efficient hardware platform. And that my friends, is the genesis behind eTude.

Unlike other virtualization technologies that may run an older OS without supporting it, Sun will fully support Solaris 8 applications running with the Solaris 8 Migration Assistant when the customer purchases a Solaris 8 Migration Services package, as well as the underlying Solaris support subscriptions. With over 5000 Solaris 10 applications shipping today, there has never been a better time than now to move to Solaris 10. Besides the Solaris 8 Migration Services, Sun has services and programs to help you migrate from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and other operating systems to Solaris 10. Of course Solaris Containers is just one of the many virtualization technologies from Sun that can help you reduce cost and complexity in your data center. Our CoolThreads servers support a hypervisor based virtualization technology called LDoms (Logical Domains) and we will soon introduce the Solaris x86 Virtual Machine (xVM) hypervisor for Solaris running on systems with x86 processors from Intel and AMD.

So, when can you actually get the Solaris 8 Migration Assistant? Well, if you are one of the lucky customers in our beta program, you are already using it. If not, you will have to wait until a bit later this year, when we officially release the product. Meanwhile, no time like the present to start planning, so contact your Sun account rep and ask for your own personalized Solaris 10 Upgrade Assessment, which can help identify exactly which applications in your data center could benefit from the Solaris 8 Migration Assistant.

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