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Oracle Embraces OpenStack in Solaris 11.2

Oracle today announced the beta availability of its Solaris 11.2 Unix operating system. The Solaris 11.2 release will be the second major update of Solaris in less than two years from Oracle, following the debut of Solaris 11.1 in October of 2012.

Since the first release of Solaris 11 in November 2011, Oracle has been positioning its flavor of Unix as a cloudOracle Solaris 11.1 operating system. With the Solaris 11.2 update, Solaris is now firmly embracing the cloud with deep integration throughout the system with the open-source OpenStack cloud platform.

Markus Flierl, Vice President, Software Development at Oracle, explained to ServerWatch that Solaris 11.2 is a full-fledged cloud platform.

"We don't think of Solaris as just an operating system," Flieri elaborated, "we think about is as a superset of an operating system that includes a virtualization hypervisor, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and a full distribution of OpenStack."

Overall, Flierl said that Solaris 11.2 includes "hundreds" of new features, with many in the traditional operating system space. One of those features is the ability to perform compliant deployment of images. It's an image deployment system that is integrated with the OpenStack Glance image project.

"We provide pre-packaged golden application images with Solaris that users can download, spin up and then run in production," Flierl said.

The same tools that Oracle has used to build golden images can be used by Solaris customers to make their own compliant application images.


A big area of feature improvement in Solaris 11.2 is in virtualization with the introduction of Kernel Zones. Solaris has long had a virtualization container technology known as Solaris Zones and Oracle also has its own Oracle VM hypervisor technology as well. The two are now being brought together in an integrated way for Solaris 11.2.

"Kernel Zones are built on top of regular Solaris Zones, but that Zone is running a full Solaris kernel," Flierl said.


Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is also getting a major boost in Solaris 11.2. Flierl explained that in Solaris 11.2 users now have the ability to create a fully distributed virtual switch.

The VXLAN protocol, which enables encapsulation of layer 2 within layer 3 networks, is also part of the Solaris 11.2 update.

Going a step further, Solaris 11.2 is now exposing all the resource management capabilities around networking to applications as well.

"We're calling this application-driven SDN," Flierl said. "That means your database and your Java apps can automatically dedicate network resources."

Flierl added that by enabling applications to drive networking, configuration can be be performed automatically and there isn't a need for a separate network administrator.


At the core of the cloud server capabilities in Solaris 11.2 is OpenStack.

"All of our new cloud capabilities are exposed through a full distribution of OpenStack that is in Solaris," Flierl said.

This full distribution includes the OpenStack Horizon dashboard for monitoring, the OpenStack Nova compute project for virtual machine creation, OpenStack Neutron to control networking and OpenStack Cinder and Swift for storage.

"Solaris is one product and it includes all of these different things," Flierl said. "It's essentially 'shrink-wrapped' and users can get setup and running in minutes."

Inside of Solaris 11.2, Oracle is using the Havana release of OpenStack that was first released in October 2013 and not the Icehouse release that debuted earlier this month. Flierl noted that in time Oracle will be updating Solaris to Icehouse.

One of the biggest new things to land in OpenStack Icehouse is the Trove Database-as-a-Service (DbaaS) project. Flierl noted that Trove is something Oracle would like to bring into Solaris and will be fully testing it.

From an SDN controller perspective, Solaris 11.2 is using OpenStack Neutron as the functional controller.

"The elastic virtual switch which is our distributed virtual switch has a controller with it that lets it set up all the endpoints," Flierl said. "The elastic virtual switch is also fully integrated with OpenStack."

So in a typical use-case, a Solaris 11.2 user could access the OpenStack Horizon dashboard, create a virtual machine via OpenStack Nova, set up storage resources with OpenStack Cinder or Swift and then control the elastic virtual switch with OpenStack Neutron.

"It's all one architecture," Flierl said. "We develop in parallel, so as we were working on bringing OpenStack in, that drove requirements in Solaris overall."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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This article was originally published on April 29, 2014
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