Tuesday, May 06, 2008

How OpenSource and ISVs can leverage OpenSolaris

I briefly mentioned in my earlier post that OpenSolaris binary is probably just a chapter of a book. To really understand how the benefits of OpenSolaris lets look at the needs of a typical Software Application

A Software Application at a very base level of being a usage product needs the following:

  1. Operating System: First and foremost which generally nobody wants to rewrite unless there is something missing that you really need. Generally it is part of "Systems requirement" which defines the operating systems supported.

  2. Method of distributing the software: Either via CD, DVD or via internet downloads

  3. Installer: Installing the software on the target machine

  4. Patching/Upgrading: Upgrading the software when new versions are released (specially with security updates)

So how does OpenSolaris solve this problems?

Lets start with (1). For the first time that I am aware, this is first Any Solaris release which makes it so friendly to even bundle an Operating System with a software product that the customers of Software application need not be even concerned about if the server (virtual for that matter) is going to do only the task of running this software application. I may not be far from truth when I mention that since I am aware of many people who are using Virtual Machine which is only doing one tasks. Suddenly the number of operating systems increases drastically and multiplied with number of operating systems available, I forsee more and more people bundling the operating system as part of their software application. In such sense OpenSolaris is already ahead of the curve providing tools to make the whole bundling experience easy with open source projects which includes Distribution Constructor and the new Installer project. Infact the New Installer project even makes it easy to not only install OpenSolaris but also your own application with it  and since it is all open source it can all be modified to have your own branding image out there giving a sense of control to the "key task" product to be highlighted during installation. (Maybe call it PostgreSQL OS). Looks like I am also covering (3).

Now to cover (2) and (4) the repository with pkg(5) command is ready to cover those responsibilities. The thing to realize is that there can be more than one repositories. For instance http://pkg.opensolaris.org is a repository which has all the packages for OpenSolaris itself, but an ISV or OpenSource communities can create their own repositories for their Software application. Now suddenly having a software application which is easy to distribute, install, update is now so easy to create and maintain with this ecosystem, its hard to imagine why this was not done years ago. 

This new eco-system makes it easy to cater to multiple type of Software applications

1. Controller Software application where all installations need to have identical stack. (Creating custom distribution helps achieve that)

2. Latest and Greatest Software application model (using pkg makes it very easy)

3. Pick and Choose model : As repositories increase in number there will be choices where to get packages and pre-built binaries for your needs.

Ofcourse I am probably skipping many other requirements of an ISV since every ISV is different but if dissected probably the new ecosystem can probably fill most (if not all) of the needs in this new world of Solaris.






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