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Oracle Previews Upcoming Solaris 11 and Oracle Linux Changes

Almost lost within the fanfare of last week's Oracle OpenWorld were several sneak peeks at where the company is heading with its Solaris and Oracle Linux operating systems (OS) in the near future. For the upcoming release of Solaris 11, the company announced features to make it more user friendly, more virtualized and more scalable. On the Linux side, Oracle revealed it is releasing a second version of its Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for Linux. The big news here is that it can be patched without any downtime.

Solaris 11

Oracle Solaris 11 is due for release next month, but Oracle previewed it during a keynote this week. John Fowler, executive vice president, systems at Oracle, highlighted that it runs on SPARC and x86 systems, and more than 600 customers are already running initial versions of Solaris 11 in production environments.

"One of our drivers was to make Solaris 11 more hassle free," said Fowler. "We have been putting together a distribution that includes all your software which includes one button install and roll back."

The company is calling this the first and only fully virtualized OS with zero virtualization overhead.

It will come with new software provisioning and maintenance capabilities that can operate in cloud and large enterprise deployments. As a result, software images can be rapidly installed on thousands of machines.

Other changes include improved security and the ability to scale to tens of thousands of hardware threads, hundreds of terabytes of memory and hundreds of gigabits per second of I/O.

Fowler also emphasized that Solaris 11 is a core component of the new Oracle Sun ZFS Storage Appliance, as well as the recently announced SPARC SuperCluster T4-4, SPARC T4 server line, Oracle Exadata Database Machine X2-2 and X2-8 systems and Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud.

"The parallel capabilities of Oracle Solaris 11 allow the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance to process I/O requests in parallel, increasing storage efficiency and performance to levels higher than other NAS suppliers," said Fowler. "With Oracle Solaris 11, we will introduce our most innovative product release to date with features that will help customers move toward agile, efficient and secure business clouds."

Oracle Linux

Fowler introduced Edward Screven, chief corporate architect at Oracle, to talk about changes to its Oracle Linux Distribution. In particular, he was there to talk about Release 2 of the Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for Linux.

Oracle Linux combines Oracle enhancements with those of the Linux open source community. According to Screven, it can support up to 4096 cores and 2 TB of memory. Oracle has found it to be the best Linux kernel for server workloads. As a result, the company has ceased using Red Hat anywhere inside its operations and recommends only its version of Linux to run with its software.

"Our Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 2 will be even faster at scale, will include Linux containers, a virtual switch and the DTrace dynamic tracing framework," said Screvens.

Screven spoke briefly about what he called the kernel patching problem. Patching the kernel, he said, typically gets delayed for days or weeks, during which time you have been vulnerable to attack. Oracle has solved this problem in its own version of Linux with a KSplice engine that generates updates that can patch running Linux servers.

"There is now no need to bring down the app in Oracle Linux," said Screvens. "Only Oracle has this capability with no rebooting and no downtime."

This service is available now as part of Oracle Premier Support. No word yet, however, on an exact release date for the latest version of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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This article was originally published on October 10, 2011
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