Saturday, September 23, 2006

Google testing OpenSolaris

There are rumors running all over the place that Google is Testing Sun's OpenSolaris. In fact even digg featured the article and the comments are quite interesting. Now leaving out the Linux fanatics who seem to be blindfolded in their love for their OS the reasonable amongst them can argue about the benefits about it. Now that would be a really fruitful discussion, which unfortunately never happens. Most threads of this nature are dominated by the "I am good and all else is bad" comments.

But taking a look at this from an unbiased perspective (I am really trying to be unbiased here) Google can seriously benefit from a lot of what OpenSolaris has to offer.

OpenSolaris is a BSD variant
All Unix and Linux faithful can't deny the fact that the BSD variants are for some reason the more sturdier class of *nixes. Be if FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris of Apple's Darwin all of these have been very successful on high end systems. And high end today does not mean high cost but its more in terms of their scale. The up times shown by Solaris servers are legendary in their own right. And ofcourse now OpenSolaris is Trusted by default.

OpenSolaris has the bells and whistles
Dtrace, Zones, Zfs, FMA, x64 support and a lot more. Sun has gone all out while developing Solaris and has gone ahead and released all of this as OpenSolaris. Yes they are currently using the same code base for both, Solaris and OpenSolaris. So someone like Google can benefit by using zfs and scaling their mhamoth data centers even further while running dtrace to figure out the real time patterns in usage and code segments. So catch those algorithms while they are lazing around or eating more resources and improve them.

OpenSolaris provides for binary compatibility
Now I am sure Linux guys dint know what that means but it has been an assurance given by Sun on all Solaris systems for nearly 2 decades or more now. And hey its not just OpenSolaris that will let you maintain binary compatibility but because of the way the code is structured there should be no reason why this guarantee shouldn't be maintained between OpenSolaris variants as well.

OpenSolaris is Open
Ignore GPL devotees. If you don't like CDDL tough luck. But even with CDDL in place Google can go ahead and create a custom version of OpenSolaris for themselves and deploy it all over and heck even redistribute it if they like. Golaris sounds kiddish but well you never know:)

Suggestion to Google: Use Niagara ie USIV+ processors
The Niagara family of processors are targetted at customers such as Google that need a higher throughput on their front ends. With 8 cores and 4 threads per core in the Niagara1 family these processors can go ahead and eat up web queries on the Google website while the back end servers churn up the results. And NO the cost of the Niagara based systems is not prohibitive at all. In fact you could compare them with many desktop processors while comparing the cost/GHz and well the beat all of them in the cost/watt category. Am sure Google will be thinking about energy costs in the huge facility that they are supposedly coming up with in collaboration with the US government.

Well Netcraft shows gmail running some servers on Solaris 8 already. So I guess in a couple of months we should know if these rumors have any meat in them at all. And yeah being realistic even if Google adopts OpenSolaris it will be for very specific reasons. Their deployment of Linux is humongously distributed and very customized, from what I have heard. So we wont see them going on OpenSolaris 100% in the near future. And of course they too will have to douse off the in house Linux flame throwers too right. That may be the toughest challenge!

Well moving to OpenSolaris will simply mean that Google is definitely not resting on its laurels and is in constant search of whatever will let it improve further.

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