Solaris 9 12/02 is the first Solaris to contain an integrated application server, the SunONE "platform edition" app server. That's noteworthy primarily because of convenience, since the platform edition of SunONE is a free download for Solaris users anyway. Sun really wants people to use J2EE app servers because they help developers get the most out of their systems, but mostly because J2EE has a good head start on Microsoft's .NET platform (or whatever it's called these days) and Sun would like to keep it that way. Thousands of developers fiddling with free J2EE app servers to organize pictures of their cat on the web may be a waste of horsepower, but it's an effective bulwark against Microsoft's now and future efforts to rope developers into their tools too. These companies both know that the tools that developers feel comfortable with now are the ones that they're more likely to use for the lucrative projects in the future,
Sun also sells an Enterprise Edition of the SunONE app server for more money, but as Sun's Bill Moffitt says, their main goal right now is to get people using J2EE, not necessarily to push Sun's app server on people. By far the most monetarily successful app server for J2EE is BEA Weblogic, and Sun is also including a free evaluation copy with the Solaris 9 media kit. Sun is very careful to point out that this bundling of the app server with the OS is not an attempt to squeeze out the J2EE app server vendors like BEA and IBM, since SunONE is not really a threat to Weblogic and WebSphere.
Sun's Moffitt said that Sun wants to, "sell systems that are conducive for building applications on open platforms." He hints out that Microsoft's strategy all points toward deploying on Windows, while Sun's gives your more flexibility. It seems that Microsoft's idea is to let developers use many different languages and tools to develop for one platform, while Sun suggests one tool for many platforms. Which of these approaches is more appealing will be decided over the next few years.
Solaris 9 12/02's other big new feature is a re-architected UFS file system that has great performance even with logging enabled. Solaris' previous filesystem supported logging, but only with a big hit in performance. Many people felt the need to purchase a Veritas filesystem to have the safety of logging with the performance they need. Now, Sun says, their UFS performs on par with Veritas.
Finally, the last big feature for this Solaris release is that this will be the first versions of Solaris 9 for x86 architecture.
For more information on Solaris 9 12/02, see http://www.sun.com/software/solaris/