Oracle frames Solaris 11 as a cloud platform

Platform groomed to scale with future hardware, virtualize networks, and ease maintenance

At OpenWorld today, Oracle shined a spotlight on the polished fruits of its Sun acquisition with its official announcement of Solaris 11. The platform, Oracle asserts, has been groomed for cloud computing with superior scaling and performance -- not to mention easier overall maintenance, thanks to features such as dependency-aware patching and upgrade tools.

Like nearly every enterprise company, Oracle clearly has its head in the cloud, as evidenced by the company's emphasis on Solaris 11's cloud friendliness. The forthcoming platform, Oracle says, includes capabilities ideal for "building, deploying, and maintaining cloud systems."

[ Oracle also announced at OpenWorld a high-performance data-processing system and "cloud in a box" system | Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

Those features include giving users the ability to create self-contained, multitier application environments on single systems, linked via virtual networking. According to a blog post by Oracle director of product management Dan Roberts, creating a virtual network is possible through Solaris's ability to virtualize NICs and switching "in a completely standards based way so your existing network management tools can see your network." The end result, he writes, encompass higher levels of control and more visibility into your virtualized application infrastructure.

Oracle also boasts that the platform will be suited for future hardware, capable of scaling to tens of thousands of hardware threads, hundreds of terabytes of memory, and hundreds of gigabits of I/O.

Additionally, Oracle is heavily hyping Solaris 11's new maintenance tools, designed to reduce downtime and ease patching and upgrades. Among the operating system's new features are tools aware of the dependencies among hardware and software.

One such tool is a new Image Packaging System, a dependency-aware, network-aware package. According to Roberts, Image Packaging System virtually eliminates patching errors and increases the reliability of upgrades. The tool combines with ZFS, giving uses the ability to prepare a system for a live upgrade -- without the need to take down production services. It accomplishes this feat, Roberts writes, "by preparing an alternate boot environment so your upgrade process becomes only a restart."

The existing environment won't be overwritten, he notes, so if a problem occurs with the upgrade, rolling back to the previous version is a snap.

Further promoting uptime, Oracle says it is eliminating half of the restarts needed with Solaris 10; in addition, a new Fast Reboot technology brings servers back up in seconds instead of minutes. (That innovation could also be a boon for energy-conscious data center operators considering powering down servers when they're not in use.)

Solaris 11 is set for release at the end of the year.

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