Oracle Solaris: Engineered For The Cloud

Daniel Procopio, Systems Architect

January 2016

Whenever you’re building your own Private Cloud or want to make use of a public cloud service, the de facto standard has always been Linux. However, what do you do if your applications are only certified on SPARC platforms, or your in-house skill sets revolve primarily around Solaris?

With the latest Oracle Solaris release we have now a valid alternative to Linux on both SPARC and x86 systems.

All the following features are available in Oracle Solaris 11.2 to maximize your hardware usage and build an ultra-dense environment:

  • Virtualization:
    • Oracle Solaris Zones
      • Provide native low overhead OS virtualization, with high application isolation and resource management.
    • Kernel Zones
      • Provide zones with independent kernel versions and patch levels, secure live migration, and live reconfiguration of CPU and memory resources.
  • OVM for SPARC
    • Formerly LDOM (SUN Logical Domain), OVM is a virtualization feature that allows you to define, install and run a Solaris VM using the SPARC hypervisor that is embedded in the system firmware. Unlike Oracle Solaris Zones, an OVM for SPARC virtual machine guest can run its own operating system with different Oracle Solaris releases (10 or 11) or kernel patch levels.
  • Dynamic Domains
    • Available on SPARC Enterprise M-Series systems, this technology provides a hardware partitioning of the system. CPU cores, RAM and I/O resources are allocated by a system controller (not by a hypervisor like in OVM for SPARC), and a separate instance of the OS is placed on the newly created domain.
  • OpenStack distribution
    • A complete OpenStack distribution, the well-known software to control a cloud infrastructure, is now incorporated into Oracle Solaris.
  • Software Defined Network
    • The integrated software defined network technology has been expanded, in order to have an application driven, multi-tenant cloud virtual networking, with the introduction of Elastic Virtual Switch and VXLANs
  • ZFS Storage Pools
    • Even though ZFS was part of Solaris since Solaris 10 update 2, it should be noted that it is tightly integrated with the other OS features mentioned above and provides:
      • Unlimited capacity (256 zebibytes (2^78 bytes))
      • Encryption
      • Compression
      • Replication
      • Snapshots
      • Cloning
      • Excellent storage performance through flash-aware, tiered storage pools
  • IPS (Image Packaging System)
    • In previous Oracle Solaris releases SVR4 packages were used to install software onto a system and a different set of commands were used to install patches to update the system.
    • IPS is an integrated solution that helps to automate and ease the complexity of managing the currently-installed and new software on a Solaris server, including patching.
    • Built upon a network-centric and efficient approach with automatic software dependency-checking and validation, IPS can easily and reliably install or replicate an exact set of software package versions across many different client machines, and provide a much clearer understanding of any differences between software versions installed across systems.
  • Engineered for Oracle workloads
    • Oracle Solaris is now optimized for Java and Oracle Database, providing specific benefits for running Oracle-on-Oracle.
  • Security and compliance
    • An integrated compliance monitoring and reporting system is now available. It is standards-based (XML) and built on the SCAP ecosystem (XCCDF, OVAL, and SCE), which easily integrates with enterprise compliance management programs.

Despite the fact that back in 2010 many people were concerned about the death of Solaris after the Sun acquisition and the change in Solaris licensing (moving away from open-source) Oracle Solaris today can be considered one of the most innovative enterprise-class Unix platforms available; as Oracle says, it is truly an “enterprise-grade cloud platform.”

Written by Daniel Procopio, Systems Architect