Last week, I predicted a robust battle in the server hardware space between some of the industry's biggest dogs. Didn't need my Carnac the Magnificent hat for that one, now, did I? But the fight is just as ongoing in server software platforms, and we're seeing different platforms make some inroads in areas that have heretofore been the province of longtime, stable environments. Take financial services. Many of the country's leading exchanges have been Sun shops, but Linux is popping up as a server environment at such places as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where IT staff has found that they're saving money and getting better performance at the same time. Sun hopes to maintain its foothold in that sector with Solaris 10, but the cost factor of a full Solaris license against a well-tested Linux platform could make those decisions pretty hard.
Will Sun's OpenSolaris help? It'll be Solaris 10-based, after all. But my guess is that we shouldn't look to that as an answer for any good-sized enterprises for a long while. For one thing, it's just too early to tell; Sun is only now getting the OpenSolaris effort moving, with only one development tool released this week. There's no indication yet of what capabilities OpenSolaris will carry over from the full Solaris 10 platform, and I have a hard time thinking that IT admins are going to bet any mission-critical capabilities on the open-source version until they can test the daylights out of it. The CIOs of those financial services exchanges are already being cautious about fully vetting Solaris 10; it's pretty unthinkable that they'll be enthusiastic about constantly having to adjust for open-source code as well.