Replace Solaris with Linux: a no-brainer? No !

A recent article on LinuxWorld is interesting. It shows us cases that customers is re-thinking the linux transition plan and re-evaluating the technical advantages of Solaris and other high end Unix.


The feature being talked in the story is containers, or Solaris Zones. As a way of operating system-level virtualization, its overhead is much less than that of whole-system virtualization solutions. So the system utilization rate is much higher, hence a high consolidation rate. That character hits the spot of the customer. Further more, in the latest Solaris 10 update release(10/08), Solaris Container is enhanced to ease administrators' job(See this).


Talking about administration, another advantage mentioned in the article is administrative tools on Solaris 10(and other Unix) is really better than that on Linux. Managing a large number of Linux boxes are considerably more difficult than managing Solaris machines. In the case of Qualcomm, they need 2 times more administrators if they switch to Linux! That's a significant additional cost and it balances out the "price advantage" of Linux. So in the article, "At first glance, Qualcomm would save money…" But eventually, the CIO found the price adventure for Linux "went away…pretty fast". I don't have detailed information to comment on the comparison made in the story, nonetheless, the point here is, we have to think about Total Cost of Ownership when doing the cost analysis. Administrative cost, like the good example given by the coverage, and supporting service fee are all important parts of the total cost. Here's an comprehensive service fee comparison between Solaris and RHEL(PDF).


In my opinion, Solaris(along with other Unix) Vs Linux is not an "all or nothing" choice. At least for now, both systems certainly have good enough reasons to reserve a place in enterprise IT infrastructure.


The full story is here.

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