Solaris 11 Released As Cloud Virtualisation OS

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The first Solaris release under Oracle is tuned for Sparc chips and Oracle applications but targets the cloud

At the launch of Solaris 11, Oracle claimed its latest version of the Unix operating system (OS) is the first OS developed for the cloud.

The release of Solaris 11 has been delayed following the take-over of its former developers Sun Microsystems by Oracle and the retuning of the system to match Oracle’s database and associated software stack. Developed as Solaris 11 Express, the product builds on Solaris 10’s virtualisation and rolls ins some of its add-ins.

From under a cloud

Oracle now maintains that the OS runs better than before on the Oracle, formerly Sun, servers’ proprietary Sparc chips running company’s applications. It also claimed that this made the package easier to manage and maintain.

The delayed release has been much-anticipated because Solaris still matches the combined user base for HP-UX and AIX, Oracle executive vice president of systems John Fowler claimed. However the transition from Sun to Oracle has hit the server division quite hard and Oracle is no doubt hoping that the new OS release will help turn the tide.

At the launch of Solaris 11, Oracle president Mark Hurd hailed it as “the first cloud OS” that would allow customers to run “demanding” enterprise applications in private, public and hybrid clouds.

The root of Hurd’s claim is that Solaris contains virtualisation capabilities for OS, network and storage resources – though this was also true of Solaris 10. The Oracle VM server-virtualisation not only targets the Sparc chip environment but also systems built on Intel x86 architectures.

The associated Solaris Zones can scale up to “hundreds” of zones (containers or instances) on a physical node. Fowler said that this could be done with an overhead 15 times lower than VMware.

The OS has integrated network virtualisation to allow the development of a data centre topology working over a single OS instance. This allows better control of the performance and management of the operating system, physical hardware, networking, storage and virtualization layer can be handled local or centralised through the Enterprise Manager Ops Centre.

Fowler said that the Zettabyte File System (ZFS) de-duplication and encryption features, a Solaris 10 add-in, are integrated within Solaris 11. This makes the services available to other file systems and applications at line-speed on the Sparc T4 processors, introduced last September.

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