Enterprise operating systems

Can anyone name a single feature of “enterprise” operating systems available today that was not already working in VMS or Solaris or SGI’s system 10 or more years ago?

  1. Multi-processor support – practically prehistoric. Here’s a wise observation: ”Since the speed of light, the physical sizes of computer components, and the speeds of memories are intrinsic limitations on the speed of any single processor, it is clear that systems with multiple processors and multiple memory units are needed to provide greater capacity. This is not to say that fast processor units are undesirable, but that extreme system complexity to enhance this single parameter among many appears neither wise nor economic.” from a paper published 40 years ago! (See more here.)
  2. Dynamic kernel modules – shipped in SVR4.2 in 1992.
  3. Log structured/journaling FS – 1992 or before in BSD from Rosenblum/Ousterhout and others.
  4. Hypervisors – been around forever and still without a compelling use case.

One would think that the demands of, for example, e-commerce or financial trading or simulation were a simple matter of scaling up. But from the much lamented and long noticed problems caused by OS assumptions about storage to the inability of current operating systems to handle security well or to provide sensible fault-tolerance hooks for applications, it’s obvious that there are serious limitations to current systems. Fortunately, they are mostly fixable.

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