Oracle adds more cloud finesse to Solaris

The newly released Solaris 11.1 offers more SDN features as well as a new federated filesystem for NFS

Further emphasizing Larry Ellison's fresh enthusiasm for cloud computing, Oracle has updated its Solaris Unix operating system with a number of new capabilities to give it greater cloud capabilities, including a new distributed storage file system and SDN (software defined networking) features.

Solaris 11.1, the first update in almost a year, includes over 300 new features and performance improvements. Oracle announced the new edition at its Oracle OpenWorld conference, being held this week in San Francisco.

Solaris is Oracle's Unix operating system for essential enterprise operations, and -- along with Hewlett Packard's HP-UX and IBM's AIX -- one of the few viable non-Linux Unix variants on the market. Oracle acquired Solaris in its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010. Oracle deploys the OS for the company's SPARC T-Series server line, and the OS powers a number of Oracle packaged systems, including the Oracle SPARC SuperCluster T4-4, Oracle Exadata Database Machine and Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud engineered systems.

Last year's release of Solaris 11 introduced a number of new features that would make Solaris more suitable for hosting cloud deployments, and this update continues this work.

With this release, Solaris is now the first OS to support the new open standard Federated File System (FedFS). FedFS provides a unified namespace for linking multiple NFS (Network File System) storage systems. It offers a single view of files across different geographies and underlying hardware systems.

Solaris 11.1 also offers a number of new features to help run Software Defined Networks (SDN), an emerging cloud-friendly architectural practice that shifts network control into software from the network equipment itself. Solaris now offers Data Center Bridging, which allows Ethernet network cards to carry both network and storage network traffic, eliminating the need for separate devices. The OS also now offers Edge Virtual Bridging, which allows VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) to be set up without excessive configuration of data center switches.

Oracle has also tuned Solaris so that it runs Solaris Zone operations four times as quickly. Zones allow different workloads to run simultaneously, each within their own environment, on a single machine. Users can also now shift Zones between different systems.

Other improvements include a change in the lock management, in which lock management has been moved into the kernel, which cuts lock latency time in Oracle Real Application Clusters lock latency by 17 percent. Those using the Oracle Database Shared Global Area (SGA) memory sharing scheme can resize the database without rebooting the machine. And Solaris 11.1 now comes with OpenSCAP, an implementation of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology's Security Content Automation Protocol that should assist in reporting on compliance efforts.

Oracle will hold a webcast on November 7 to further discuss the new features in Solaris 11.1.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

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