Oracle has updated its Unix-based operating system Solaris, adding some features that would make the OS more suitable for running cloud deployments, as well as integrating it more tightly with other Oracle products, the company announced Wednesday.
"We looked at some of the big challenges that people were having in deploying cloud infrastructure, either in a private cloud or public cloud," said Charlie Boyle, senior director of product marketing. "In the release, we engineered out some of the complexity in managing a cloud infrastructure, and made it possible to run any Solaris application in a cloud environment."
Cloud deployments require even greater levels of automation and streamlining than a standard IT infrastructure would, noted Markus Flierl, Oracle vice president of software development. While an organization may run hundreds of Solaris servers, as it moves its applications to a cloud infrastructure, it may run them across thousands of virtual Solaris instances.
Solaris, a Unix implementation, was originally developed by Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired last year. While not as widely known for its cloud software, Oracle has been marketing Solaris as a cloud-friendly OS. In Oracle's architecture, users can set up different partitions, called Zones, inside a Solaris implementation, which would allow different workloads to run simultaneously, each within their own environment, on a single machine.
Oracle Solaris Zones has 15 times less overhead than a VMware implementation, Oracle asserted in its marketing literature. The company also touted that Zones had no artificial limitations set on memory, network, CPU, or storage resources.
Many of the new features were designed to ease the administrative overhead of running a cloud-like infrastructure, Flierl said. One new feature, called Fast Reboot, will allow the system to boot up without doing the routine set of hardware checks, a move that can make system boot times up to two and a half times faster, Oracle claimed. This feature can be handy in that an administrator applying a patch or software update across thousands of Solaris deployments can reboot them all the more quickly. "It allows you safely to upgrade your entire environment," Flierl said.
The new Solaris also features a new software management system, called Image Packaging System, that will keep track of a program's dependencies, or the libraries and other software that the program needs to run. The Image Packaging System keeps all the software packages in a system up-to-date, including those in a virtual environment.
Also adding to Solaris' cloud capabilities are new administrator controls that lock down the settings in individual Zones. Users can be limited in what changes they can make to the file system, or to the network settings. It can also limit the amount of network bandwidth each Zone can use. This is also the first version of the OS that allows users to virtualize networking resources, meaning supporting network cards can route traffic to appropriate virtual machines without any additional processing on the part of the server CPU itself.