Transitive Ships Sparc/Solaris Emulator, Partners with Hitachi
Published: November 29, 2007
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
As promised two months ago, Transitive has begun shipping a variant of its QuickTransit application emulation environment that allows applications compiled for Sparc processors running Solaris to be moved to Linux servers based on either X64 or Itanium processors. Transitive and its partners, Intel and Hewlett-Packard, are hoping to cash in on the aging Sparc/Solaris server base, and now Hitachi is joining the fray.
Transitive got its start licensing a sophisticated application environment created by Alasdair Rawsthorne, a computer science professor at Manchester University, which was launched as a formal product back in September 2004. The original Transitive model was to sell the emulator to sellers of new Unix-like systems (including Linux and more modern Unix releases) as a means for them to support the legacy applications running on older mainframe and Unix systems. QuickTransit was picked up by Apple Computer as a key technology in its move from Power to X64 processors, and then by Silicon Graphics as it hoped to support MIPS/Irix applications on its Itanium/Linux supercomputers. Intel paid for Transitive to create a specific version of QuickTransit to support Sparc/Solaris applications on Linux/X64 platforms, and then kicked in some more funds to help create a version of this emulator that ran on Itanium platforms. HP stepped up with this tool, hoping to go after the Sparc base, which is estimated to number some 2 million machines worldwide, according to estimates made by IDC, even after many years of Linux/X64 and other RISC/Unix replacements among Sun shops. IBM is also using a variant of QuickTransit to support 32-bit Linux applications on Power-based servers running Linux. Sun Microsystems is also co-developing with Transitive a version of QuickTransit to support legacy Sparc/Solaris applications on its new X64-based Galaxy server line running Solaris; this is supposed to be available by the end of the year.
About a year ago, when it became obvious that some customers wanted to use QuickTransit without having to wait for a server or operating system vendor to provide the support, Transitive started selling some QuickTransit licenses to customers through a channel. And to make channel sales easier, back in September Transitive rejiggered its commercial product line to address very specific needs. QuickTransit Workstation is a workstation variant of the emulator that allows companies to deploy applications on a Linux workstation for the purposes of supporting legacy applications for use or for demonstration. QuickTransit Server is the server emulator, which is designed to support applications from a specific hardware/operating system architecture on a new hardware/software combo. Right now, most of Transitive's sales are for moving Sparc/Solaris workloads to X64 and now Itanium machines, so this is the only available commercial version of QuickTransit Server. The final variant of the commercial product is called QuickTransit Legacy, and it is a more extensive and complex product that allows legacy applications to be supported on more modern servers. (For instance, supporting Solaris 2.5 applications on new iron would be a legacy job.)
With the availability of QuickTransit Server, Transitive is supplying a few more technical details as well as pricing information, which was not available in September.
For the Itanium product, Transitive is supporting any Sparc applications running on Solaris 2.6 or higher running on Itanium platforms running Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 or Red Hat's Enterprise Linux 4 AS. As customers demand other Linuxes--like the new RHEL 5, for instance--Transitive says they "can easily be supported." To which I say, well, why not just do it, then? Transitive also adds that the Sparc V8, V8+, and V9 instruction sets are supported with the emulator, in either 32-bit or 64-bit modes. Presumably the X64 version of QuickTransit Server has the same essential specs.
In terms of pricing, QuickTransit Workstation sells for $875 per machine. QuickTransit Server costs $1,750 per processor socket, while QuickTransit Legacy costs $4,990 per socket. This is not exactly cheap, of course, but then again, neither is porting Sparc applications to Linux.
Which is why Hitachi America, the North American subsidiary of Japanese server and storage maker Hitachi, has just announced a partnership with Transitive to sell QuickTransit for Solaris/Sparc on its blade gear. Hitachi is only selling blade servers in North America--no racks or towers--and has certified QuickTransit Server to run on its BladeSymphony 320 and 1000 servers, which support both Linux and Windows and could, of course, support Solaris proper if Hitachi wanted to go that route. Steve Campbell, vice president of marketing for Hitachi America's Server Systems Group, says that QuickTransit has not only been certified on the BladeSymphony iron, but on Hitachi's home-grown virtual machine hypervisor, which is called Virtage. This hypervisor was developed for X64 processors initially, but was just announced for Itanium processors as well. Hitachi supports Xeon, Opteron, and Itanium processors in the blades that plug into the BladeSymphony chasses.
For now, Hitachi is focusing on selling QuickTransit in North America, and based on data from IDC, Campbell says there is a large base numbering several hundred thousands of machines in the United States and Canada that can be targeted with Hitachi blades and QuickTransit. "The potential is huge," says Campbell. "Many of the machines out there are based on UltraSparc-II processors running homegrown code, and the situation is similar to that of legacy COBOL applications running on mainframes. Globally, about half of the Sparc installed base is more than five years old, which just shows you how hard it is to move that code or to get the money to update it."
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Hitachi Brings BladeSymphony Blade Servers to North America
Transitive Rejiggers Emulation Software, Adds Partners
Sun Backs QuickTransit for Sparc to X64 Migration
IBM Opens Up Beta for PAVE Linux Runtime on Power Chips
HP Puts Solaris on More X64 Servers, Partners for Solaris Emulation
IBM to Use QuickTransit to Emulate X86 Linux on Power Servers
Transitive Emulator Ports Sparc/Solaris Apps to Linux on Xeon, Itanium
Transitive Gets Backing from Intel for Porting Product
SGI Goes All the Way With Transitive Emulator
Cool Stuff: Transitive Emulates Server Platforms on Other Iron
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