Oracle Affirms Unix Commitment with Solaris 11 Release

Serious operating system debuts as Oracle exec declares that Oracle is "not a toy company."

When Oracle acquired Sun in 2010, there were some concerns about how the Solaris Unix operating system would be developed.

Today those concerns were brushed aside as Oracle released its first Unix release, Solaris 11. The Solaris 11 release is being called the world's first Cloud OS by Oracle executives, who tout the release's new scalability, virtualization and management features.

"This is differentiated, compelling stuff," Oracle President Mark Hurd said during the launch event for Solaris 11. "If you ever had a a question about our commitment to this product set, I hope this puts it to rest. We're putting our money behind the product set."

The Cloud OS positioning for Solaris 11 is being reinforced by a strong emphasis and focus on mission critical computing. John Fowler, Executive VP of Systems at Oracle, said during the event that the performance of Solaris -- running with the SPARC T4 processor and integrated with Oracle's application stack -- delivers significant gains over other Unix operating systems.

"We can achieve Java and database performance with the T4 processor, combined with WebLogic and the database that absolutely spanks the competition in database performance, absolute performance and cost performance," Fowler said.

Fowler added that from the ground up Solaris 11 has been engineered for scale, high performance and efficiency for running Oracle applications. The integration and improved support with Oracle applications is one of the major new distinguishing features of Solaris 11 as opposed to Solaris 10. Solaris 10 was first released back in 2004 by Sun Microsystems.

One of the key innovations that Solaris 10 delivered was virtualization zones to run applications in their own isolated containers. Solaris 11 innovates further by fully virtualizing the operating system, including the networking stack.

"We do not think of virtualization as an industry," Fowler said. "I think of virtualization as something that is designed into the platform."

Fowler noted that to properly deliver a virtualized environment you have to be able to integrate technology with every layer of the stack.

"For us we don't want to build a toy, we're not a toy company," Fowler said. "We're building virtualization so you can deploy the world's most mission-critical applications."

Handling data is also a challenge that Solaris 11 is aiming to help solve. Fowler noted that common data services have been moved directly into the OS. As such, data de-duplication as well as encryption are all now at the operating system level.

"Solaris 11 allows you to have a single set of storage devices and to create separate encrypted key-managed sets of storage for shared application infrastructure," Fowler said. "This mean that for the first time, you can have a system that has multi-tenant applications on it and those applications can be administered and protected separately, with all the data paths secured separately, without requiring physically separate infrastructure."

Moving forward, Fowler said that the market can expect a constant stream of incremental updates to Solaris 11 as Oracle continues to invest in the platform.

"We're also investing in much larger long-term things like how we change distributed service management, how we change application interactions and many other innovations that you'll see in future versions of Solaris," Fowler said. "Both in updates and a major new releases, which I suspect will be called Solaris 12."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: Oracle, virtualization, Solaris, Unix, Mark Hurd

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