Oracle recently announced the availability of Solaris 11 Express, the first iteration of its Solaris 11 product cycle. The feature set of this release is along the lines promised by Oracle at their August analyst event this year, including:

  • Scalability enhancements to set it up for future systems with higher core counts and requirements to schedule large numbers of threads.
  • Improvements to zFS, Oracle’s highly scalable file system.
  • Reduction of boot times to the range of 10 seconds — a truly impressive accomplishment.
  • Optimizations to support Oracle Exadata and Exalogic integrated solutions. While some of these changes may be very specific to Oracle’s stack, most of them are almost certain to improve any application that requires some combination of high thread counts, large memory and low-latency communications with either 10G Ethernet or Infiniband.
  • Improvements in availability due to reductions on the number of reboot scenarios, improvements in patching and improved error recovery. This is hard to measure, but Oracle claims they are close to an OS which does not need to come down for normal maintenance, a goal of all of the major UNIX vendors and long a signature of mainframe environments.

So, game changer? By itself, probably not. But, while the bulk of the work had been started before the acquisition, its release, on schedule, is a good omen for I&O groups inclined to defer their SPARC/Solaris migration programs or interested in running Solaris on x86. With the release of Solaris 11 Express, Oracle bolsters their claim to have the most mature “UNIX-like” (this is to avoid the howls of outrage that will ensue if I describe Linux as being a variant of UNIX, but we need some way to acknowledge the similarities) OS on an x86 platform.

Taken in conjunction with the drumbeat of product announcements from Oracle of integrated HW/SW stacks, SPARC road maps, and now Solaris 11, my earlier sentiment that SPARC and Solaris users now have a multi-year window within which to evaluate their plans remains unchanged. As noted in earlier posts, one of the most important milestones will be late next year or early 2012 when the first of the new Fujitsu/Oracle SPARC CPUs and accompanying servers are due to be released

We’d like to hear from you about your plans for Solaris and SPARC. Thumbs up, thumbs down, or wait and see?