Unix OSes gain clustering features

Three leading Unix operating systems have recent upgrades for clustering and security.

Sun Solaris 9 embeds Sun Microsystems' SunOne application server for Java2 Enterprise Edition. Solaris 9's enhanced Network File System improves database performance, said Anil Gadre, vice president and general manager for Solaris. The OS incorporates a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol server and an enterprise firewall.

IBM Corp. has tweaked AIX 5L to improve handling of large chunks of data. And SGI's Irix 6.5 and a higher-security variant, Trusted Irix 6.5, have received certifications under the Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme of the National Information Assurance Partnership.

An integrated volume manager gives Solaris 9 a new capability for soft-disk partitioning, Gadre said. Another feature called Containers can allocate processors and memory among multiple tasks. Solaris 9 runs on up to 128 processors in a single system and on up to 576 CPUs in a cluster.

The upgrades to IBM AIX 5L exploit the IBM Power4 processor architecture introduced in the pSeries server line, said Mike Carroll, AIX marketing manager.

A new Technical Large Page feature transfers 16M chunks of data between applications and main memory, Carroll said. It works with the Scheduling Large Affinity function, which restricts workloads to a subset of CPUs within a multiprocessor system, and the Memory Affinity feature, which preferentially allocates memory closest to the processors handling the workload.

That assists bandwidth-intensive applications such as biochemical simulations and business intelligence systems, Carroll said.

IBM also offers a free toolbox for linking pSeries AIX platforms into a grid. The toolkit consists of open-source software developed by the Globus Project, a joint effort of Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Southern California.

Grids in harness

"The grid is a way of harnessing distributed computing power," Carroll said.

SGI's standard Irix 6.5.13 meets the Controlled Access Protection Profile of the Common Criteria program. CAPP corresponds to the B1 security level from the former Trust Technology Assessment Program's Orange Book standard, said Casey Schaufler, SGI's manager of trusted technology.

Trusted Irix 6.5.13 conforms to the more stringent Labeled Security Protection Profile, consistent with the Orange Book's C2 standard, Schaufler said.

The Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Monterey, Calif., has been using Trusted Irix for about a year, said Mike Clancy, the center's chief scientist and deputy technical director.

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