Hundreds of system administrators, application developers and other IT types descended on Boston last week to hear presentations and exchange ideas at Microsoft's TechNet 2000 Symposium.
We at SearchSolaris saw this event as a great opportunity to ask regular Microsoft users how they feel their operating systems match up against Sun's flagship product. We found that those with experience working on or monitoring both systems gave Solaris the edge almost every time in terms of scalability, security and application development.
"My opinion is that NT and Windows 2000 need to do a great deal more work to scale like Sun," said Andrew Blencowe, CEO of Argent Software, a company that sells a monitoring tool for both Windows-based and Solaris-based networks. "And in my opinion NT/2000 still has a substantial way to go to catch Sun's reliability."
"What I mean by "scalability" is SMP, or Symmetric Multiprocessing scalability," Blencowe said, adding that currently Windows 2000 can scale up to 32 CPUs in one skin. "Sun seems to have a substantial head start on that over Windows 2000, and it is going to be, in our opinion, one of the leading limitations for Windows 2000's adaptation in the commercial marketplace."
Chris Cusumano, an account executive with the network security company IntraSystems, said that in terms of security, Windows 2000 passes his company's litmus test. But Windows NT, the previous release of Microsoft's operating system,
"Our main object here is firewall security," Cusumano said. "Although our firewall software will run on NT or Solaris, we won't install on NT. Because we are a security company we have a reputation to uphold, so therefore we won't put a firewall on any NT net server."
In terms of developing applications "it's a little trickier, Solaris, but it's also easier to customize," said a developer who declined to give his name. "You can get all those little features and tweaks."
Siddarth Jeevan, who is experienced building applications with both Solaris and Windows pointed out that the OS that is best for you depends on the type of applications you want to build.
"If you are really building a huge Web site, I think Microsoft has to go an extra step whereas to convince the customers their operating systems are finally there for bigger sites," said Jeevan. "I think that message has not stayed clear for Microsoft, so Solaris has definitely got an edge out there, I believe."
Jeevan said that if the Web site you want to build is simple and full of content, then Windows will suffice, but if you're a business and want to build a highly transactional Web site, then Solaris is for you. "For those kinds of businesses with ERP and legacy systems, probably Solaris has the edge."
Bob Familiar, principal consultant at the Microsoft Technology Center and a speaker at the conference, said the Microsoft platform offers the better environment in which to create applications.
"We have the best developer tools - Visual Studio - hands down we have the best development environment, and we give you the ease of development, faster time to market and we keep the cost down," said Familiar. "Those are the best things about our development environment when compared to, let's say, a Sun/Solaris or Unix environment."