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Sun has deepened PostgreSQL/Solaris integration, says university

Despite initial wariness after Sun's acquisition of MySQL, the University of Waterloo now commends the new Sun Solaris 10 OS update for improved integration with PostgreSQL.

Earlier this year, when Santa Clara, Calif. based Sun Microsystems Inc. announced that it would acquire open source database MySQL, users were concerned that PostgreSQL, another open source database that Sun supported on its Solaris operating system, would get pushed out.

Though PostgreSQL isn't as popular as MySQL, it still has some prominent users, including Voice over IP (VoIP) provider Skype and Yahoo, which has a modified 2-petabyte PostgreSQL data warehouse that helps track information on search and ad services at the company.

But for customers wary about PostreSQL's future lack of support – those like the University of Waterloo -- have found that's not the case.Sean McLeod, a systems and software specialist at the Toronto-area university, said that, to the contrary, the update to the operating system that came out a couple months ago, Solaris 10 5/08, has improved integration with PostgreSQL.

A loyal Sun, PostgreSQL shop
Since 1999 the University of Waterloo has used Solaris and Sun hardware for a research project in conjunction with the Canadian Space Agency. The research involves taking ozone measurements in space and running research applications to see the effect on the earth and its atmosphere. The school began using Solaris version 2 on Sun workstations and now has a cluster of 10 Sparc servers and eight AMD Opteron-based x86 machines.

"We actually are running a lot of the same code today," McLeod said.

The university is a big PostgreSQL shop, something that McLeod said was "sort of a legacy thing" that it inherited from another project. At the moment, he estimated that it has 15 terabytes of data residing in various PostgreSQL databases.

With Solaris 10 5/08, McLeod said PostgreSQL is even more well integrated than before. He said that the user interface is easier to work with because some of the controls are pre-installed in Solaris. PostgreSQL now also has support for native probes from Solaris' problem analysis tool DTrace as well as a feature called Predictive Self-Healing and support for Solaris Containers, one of the operating system's virtualization features.

"The more that's pre-built into the operating system, the less we have to build into the machines," he said.

ZFS on tap
McLeod added that as the university's volume of data grows, the Solaris Zettabyte File System (ZFS) file system manager has become more attractive. The school has a storage attached network (SAN) of about 20 terabytes right now, which it will probably double in the near future. Rather than using the volume management software built into the existing SAN hardware, McLeod said using ZFS could be a better bet.

"The idea of more and more ZFS support living right inside the box is attractive to us going forward," he said. "It doesn't tie us to a particular class of SAN hardware."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer. You can also check out our Server Specs blog.

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