What does it take to build a Cloud OS? According to Oracle, it takes a high degree of performance, scalability, security and manageability which are all baked into the new Solaris 11 operating system.
Oracle officially release the Solaris 11 Unix operating system, the first major Solaris release under Oracle's ownership and first major update to Solaris since Solaris 10 back in 2004. Oracle has been testing and previewing the new Unix release in a Solaris 11 Express build that has been available since the end of 2010.
Oracle is positioning Solaris 11 as the world's first Cloud OS, integrating in multiple types of technology and processes that help to enable the cloud paradigm.
"As you're going from hundreds of physical nodes to thousands or tens of thousands of virtual nodes there are huge scalability and administrative challenges," Markus Flierl, vice president of software development at Oracle told InternetNews.com. "We've built a lot of features into Solaris 11 to deal with those challenges."
From an application packaging perspective, Solaris 11 has a new packaging system that is built on top of the ZFS filesystem. Flierl explained that Solaris 11 simplifies the way upgrades are handled. Only the incremental changes that are necessary to get to the next patch or upgrade level are executed.
"By using ZFS as the underlying technology it allows us to do that and rollback to the older version if necessary," Flierl said. "So if for example there is a security patch that changes a single line of code, ZFS will figure out where you have to make a change and it will only download the minimum amount of data that you need to make the change."
Virtualization also undergoes a major overhaul in Solaris 11. Flierl noted that Solaris 10 used the Solaris Zones virtualization infrastructure which is now being greatly expanded.
"With Solaris 11, we have a fully virtualized OS on the compute, network and storage sides," Flierl said. "From a customer perspective that means Solaris 11 provides full isolation."
Flierl added that now a customer can create a Zone that has its own dedicated network stack, complete with firewall and isolation. The way the system has been implemented is that it can leverage underlying hardware capabilities to provide the virtualization without a performance hit.
From a cloud security perspective, there is a new Solaris 11 feature called, the immutable filesystem. With that, the filesystem can be locked down so the user can't accidentally or malicious make any destructive changes to the filesystem.
"It makes it more secure for people using Solaris 11 and for your own purposes as you're running with a larger number of tenants in your data center," Flierl said.
For those currently running Solaris 10, the virtualization capabilities in Solaris 11 will make the upgrade path an easy one.
"Essentially what you can do is shut down the running Solaris 10 server, create an archive and then just bring up that same archive on a Solaris 11 environment," Flierl said. "You can take full advantage of the Solaris 11 features, yet from an application perspective it looks like you're still running Solaris 10."
Another key aspect of the Solaris 11 release is the close integration with other components of the Oracle software stack. Flierl noted that with the Oracle Database in particular, Solaris 11 delivers a 150 percent performance improvement over previous releases. Flierl stressed that integration with Oracle applications and the benefit of the complete stack is key aspect of the Solaris 11 release.
"That has become a lifestyle for us and it's something that has fundamentally changed from when we were Sun Microsystems," Flierl said.