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Sun Solaris virtualization: How to sell and support

Sun Solaris is catching up with competitors by creating an OpenSolaris binary distribution to attract users and create business opportunities. This tip outlines best-pratices for sales and support of this new strategy.

Recently Sun's channel partners have seen other versions of Linux and Unix being upgraded while Solaris seems to stay flat. Red Hat released RHEL5, and Ubantu released Feisty Fawn version 7.04, but Sun has been working on innovations of its own.

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Sun's current initiative is to create an OpenSolaris binary distribution to attract new users to the OpenSolaris community, grow developer interest and create new business opportunities for Sun and its partners. Similar to Red Hat's Linux model, the project aspires to make Solaris more familiar to a new generation of users raised on that type of model.

Red Hat's model includes one version based on the open source community (Fedora) and one version for the enterprise (RHEL). Sun believes it can replicate this model and increase profit share by doing so. While not an innovation in the true sense of the word, Sun is selling the project as an innovation because they have not yet used this model.

The channel needs to understand the long-term approach of its vendors so they can be in a position to sell their solutions accordingly. It is particularly important for their key partners to buy into this new strategy so that they can help articulate Sun's message.

Sun's server virtualization offerings

Solaris has now begun to incorporate Xen virtualization. This move is long overdue, but it's not quite ready for resellers and customers to take advantage of. Sun is trying to create a direct open source competitor to VMware's ESX. It recognizes that Xen has become extremely popular, particularly for those on tight budgets. Solaris could also function as a complement to Sun's existing container-based virtualization solution, Sun Containers -- which virtualizes the operating system (OS), while Xen virtualizes the hardware. In doing so, Containers enables multiple OS kernels to run simultaneously on one server.

Building multiple virtualization options into Solaris gives resellers more ways to provide value to the client. By offering more virtualization options and capabilities, resellers can provide customers with more flexibility to run Solaris and the associated hardware.

Sun's Logical Domains (LDoms) technology (separate from Xen) allows resellers to consolidate multiple physical servers into logical servers, which run on Sun's CoolThreads servers. Each logical server's OS, data and applications are partitioned and run independently of one another, but share the CoolThreads servers' processing and storage resources. As with logical partitioning on IBM's Power Architecture, one can even run multiple operating systems simultaneously, combining several small Unix and Linux servers on one CoolThreads server. In a nutshell, it is a CPU partitioning technology designed to run multiple operating systems on an UltraSPARC T1 system, utilizing a hypervisor-based model.

Reseller value with Solaris virtualization

Customers will count on you to provide value with understanding of how best to deploy virtualization and consolidation of the technology. Let the hardware company innovate. You need to be able to determine the right solutions for your customers and then be in a position to properly implement and support them while understanding innovative technologies and disseminating which new initiatives are worth pursing in their enterprise.

Solaris-based virtualization solutions, such as LDoms, can add value for customers as long as resellers are able to provide the engineering services clients need to install, configure and optimize them. Having the technical capabilities to deploy Solaris-based virtualization solutions will provide a strong return on investment to the client. Successful channel pros have long recognized that what customers are really in need of are intelligent partners that truly understand how to deploy solutions.

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