Oracle launches Solaris 11.2: Exadata, OpenStack fueled relevance?

Oracle launches Solaris 11.2: Exadata, OpenStack fueled relevance?

Summary: Oracle wants to make Solaris more of a platform instead of an operating system. Whether Solaris succeeds may depend on traction in engineered systems as well as OpenStack integration.


Oracle on Tuesday launched the second version of its Solaris Unix operating system in three years, but its impact largely depends on the success of Exadata and the company's engineered systems as well as OpenStack.

On the surface, you'd have to wonder what the Solaris hubbub is about. Solaris is a Unix-based operating system and the Unix server market has tumbled. According to IDC data, Unix server share was 13.6 percent of the market in the fourth quarter. Windows has 45.7 percent market share with Linux at 28.5 percent. Oracle has 4.7 percent of the server market overall.

In other words, Solaris is battling in a shrinking market for a vendor who aspires to be a high-end computing player and watches its market share fall. IDC also said Oracle Solaris UNIX servers accounted for $1.4 billion in revenue globally in 2013, or 21 percent of the global UNIX server revenue. That tally was flat with 2012. Oracle SPARC accounted for 18 percent of the RISC+EPIC revenue globally in 2013 ($1.3 billion), up from 16% in 2012, according to IDC.

Oracle President Mark Hurd said Solaris is critical to the company because it's an engine for Exadata and engineered systems. Oracle is hoping these engineered systems will power the cloud---and sell a lot of database licenses and applications with the maintenance fees attached. For good measure, Solaris 11.2 includes a full distribution of OpenStack.

But Solaris is more about a layer of an integrated system than an operating system. Hurd said Oracle will be No. 1 in high-end computing systems "in a reasonable time frame." "This isn't a three year vision," he said. 


Hurd said Oracle just sold its 10,000th engineered system. Those engineered systems run on two operating systems Linux and Solaris. In many respects, the Solaris launch revolves around positioning its own operating system as a better choice than Linux. Oracle's argument is that if it can deliver workloads better, more efficiently and cheaper its hardware strategy will pay off and Solaris will be a natural choice.

John Fowler, executive vice president of systems, said Solaris 11.2 has more than 500 enhancements including:

  • Integrated virtualization.
  • Software defined networking.
  • A full distribution of OpenStack. 
  • Fast patching with secure boots and archiving. 
  • Virtual machines compliant with regulations.
  • Integrated hypervisor for Oracle’s SPARC and x86. 
  • Backward compatibility.

Fowler talked about the deep integration with OpenStack and Solaris' hooks into Oracle's processors. "We're building it out to be a complete platform and to make this more than an operating system," said Fowler.

Hurd added that enterprises don't want to integrate hardware and operating systems. "Who wants to glue an operating system to a server?" asked Hurd.

"This is a big deal for us. We're trying to lead in each layer of the stack," said Hurd.



Topics: Enterprise Software, Cloud, Data Centers

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  • The way oracle...

    squeezes it's customers on support costs (including thrid party support providers) and behaves towards open source in general (which OpenStack is part of) - one would be crazy to add any oracle products. which is too bad - solaris (and sparc) has it's pluses.

    so, good luck with that Mark and Larry. :-P
    • agreed

      I think Solaris and SPARC are as good as dead. I can't imagine anyone pushing for it in any company -- seems like a job-killer. My company used to run Oracle on the old SunFire SPARC servers, and we tossed all of it for Linux around 2007 or so. We got better performance on x86 boxes for a lot less money. I'm sure that stuff is even more expensive now that Oracle owns it. The Linux has been rock-solid, and we're not paying anyone for support.

      We're still on Oracle but more and more our VPs and above are looking for a way to get away from them because of the costs. They constantly squeeze more, and it's about to go .
      • Oracle has just released 5 year roadmap for SPARC

        Good as dead? Sunfire? Seems you're a bit outdated. SunFire servers are at least 5-7 years old! Many of the fortune 500 banks, telecoms and even governments are running Solaris on SPARC today. Theres well over a million enterprise class SPARC/Servers in the world running in production environments. And with Oracle releasing a new 5-year SPARC roadmap (they’ve delivered 4 generations of SPARC since 2010 already), theres lots of exciting new innovations and performance gains expected in future.

        Oracle has been investing $BN's in R&D on SPARC/Solaris the last 3 years so might suggest reevaluating your environment. Linux on x86 may appear cheaper, but the long term costs and additional complexities will significantly drive up your operational costs, far beyond the cost of HW & SW.

        Even Fujitsu has been heavily investing in their own SPARC.

        Today, there are very few benchmarks where SPARC is not #1 and if you're running Oracle, theres no faster, better price/performance platform to run Oracle than on SPARC/Solaris.
  • Windows has 45.7 percent market share...

    Whaa??? Windows has 45.7% market share??? How can this be? We're constantly told how no one uses Windows for servers.
    • That's okay.

      Linux still holds 90% of the supercomputer market..
      • If we are talking top 500

        Then it's 99.6% to Linux with only two windows systems coming in at 237th and 309th
        Alan Smithie
      • And 90+% of the financial market.

        and 80+% of the phone and tablet.
      • Terrible come back!

        What's the "supercomputer market"?
        I develop on Linux but still, one can't deny that Windows Server is ubiquitous in enterprises, together with its LDAP server companion (Active Directory). Like it or not, Windows Server is out there and gets the job done. Windows Server is also the backbone of MS's Azure cloud platform, so it will become even more popular. Even if I believe that Linux is better (both for development and runtime), Windows Server is a fine enterprise environment too.
    • Core Count ?

      MS loves to price by core and CPU so it would be interesting to see what what the total number would be in Linux server cores vs Windows Server cores. Much higher in Linux's favor I suspect.
      Alan Smithie
    • Well, you know...

      ...all those MS Exchange server that IT guys were dead set against, but suits are so in love with? Or AD controllers that MS got into the enperprises bacause Novell was so damn greedy? That's your 45.7 percent. :-)
  • Correction

    Exadata's don't run Solaris- they run Linux. Just a small point!
    • Correction to your correction

      Exadata does run Solaris.
      • Exadata

        Care to elaborate? I support Exadata's in my job so would be interested to hear where Solaris is involved. Is it only certain Exadata's, or only certain parts? The db nodes and storage cells on all of the ones I have seen are running Linux.
      • You are correct

        I have just read the current datasheet for Exadata and it seems that it is available with either Linux or Solaris database servers. So you are absolutely right - my apologies.
    • Exadata supports Linux or Solaris

      Exadata supports either Oracle Linux or Solaris but for critical and/or highest performance Oracle DB deployments, Oracle recommends running Solaris "as "Oracle Database Runs Best on Oracle Solaris"