I have been working with a large retailer of late who is a heavy user of Sun & Solaris. As you can imagine, this is perfectly normal, and in fact, considered best practice for what they are doing. That said though, in an area such as retail, with low margins and profits based on sheer quantity, surely a leap of faith into the “dark side” or as we prefer to call it, linux, would be a better option?
Once upon a time the argument was simple, RISC architecture was simply ahead of the game, by a long way, but guess what, x86 grew up, caught up, and overtook. These days, the performance you get out of multi-core x86 is significantly more than it's RISC based equivalent. I realise that point could be considered contentious by the purists out there, but for mainstream computing in a world that is ever more cost concious, I struggle see how any argument for RISC can win over x86.
Once you have your x86 base, you can go with an x86 version of Solaris (not that you would) or thanks to Sun not playing silly games, you can actually use something useful, such as Redhat, Suse, ubuntu or if you so desire, Novell.This additional flexibility is core to getting the base of your platform right. Large scale architectures need solid foundations to remain stable, perform and scale as desired.
Lets consider it for a moment. Sparc vs x86 & Solaris vs Linux, well to be honest, there is barley anything in the comparison except cost. Sun make x86 hardware based on multi-core AMD processors which are blisteringly fast and being manufactured by Sun, they are rock solid.
Now. If I were that retailer, I know where I would be looking to spend my money, but thats not what I am there to talk to them about, so I'll keep it for my blog and not overstep my scope.