A Financial Times article announced Sun Microsystems will be releasing their Solaris operating system as open source in the near future.
This is a rather intriguing new player to open source for web developers. Sun has long been a prime choice in the data center for large scale web application hosting, and of course supports many of the most popular web-related server software that we know from the Linux environment such as Apache and MySQL.
I recently read an evaluation of Solaris versus Linux, with some surprising results. While it was not done in a pure test lab – it seemed a fair test. You can read the evaluation here.
Most interesting in the results were Solaris outperforming Linux on the compilation of applications, and in ssl and web tests. The Linux filesystem did perform better than Solaris — however — this is not necessarily an important metric on the web hosting side.
While Solaris on x86 (Intel) systems does not have quite as many application binaries available — the move to open source will surely encourage developers to look at the system again for ports for installation.
This move also again shifts a traditional large enterprise class operating system into the hemisphere of web developers who would not have the economics to invest in it (Solaris).
I find it fascinating that in numerous studies corporations of all sizes are looking at open source solutions in some form or fashion, and so many large software players are toying with source code releases. While I continue to believe that we will always have multi-platform environments, web developers who favor open source should watch benchmarks, research and industry statistics and always be building a portfolio of reasons why open source can work for their customers.