Oracle Solaris 11.1 update focuses on database integration, cloud

The Oracle Solaris 11.1 operating system update is keyed in on integration with Oracle Database and cloud computing features.

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Oracle Solaris 11.1, the latest version of the Unix-based operating system, aims to improve integration with Oracle Database and provide some cloud computing features.

Oracle Corp. initially announced Solaris 11.1 at OpenWorld in October. It's generally available now, and largely geared to customers running Oracle Database on Sparc-based server hardware. Oracle will hold an open webcast on Wednesday detailing some of the features of the update, the first since Solaris 11 was released in November 2011.

These are some of the Oracle Database integrations in Oracle Solaris 11.1:

  • A Kernel Mode Acceleration feature that Oracle claims can improve throughput in Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) by 17%.
  • Faster database startup and shutdown.
  • The ability to resize the database system global area, or SGA, online without rebooting.

Al Gillen, vice president for system software at Framingham, Mass.-based analyst firm IDC, said that operating systems certainly can be engineered to improve database performance, and Oracle has the ability to do it. "The database is a very I/O-intensive workload, and you can optimize the operating system to behave better for certain types of workloads," he said. "You just have to ensure that it doesn't create negative attributes for other application types."

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There are approximately 60,000 Solaris users out there, according to Oracle officials. Markus Flierl, vice president of Solaris engineering at Oracle, said about 2,000 users have adopted Solaris 11 since it was released last year. Those users include Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T and U.S. Cellular Corp.

At the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco in October, U.S. Cellular detailed one of its major projects, building its own Infrastructure as a Service platform using Sparc processors, Oracle virtualization technology and Solaris 11.

Flierl mentioned another feature of Oracle Solaris 11.1, which will work with Oracle Database 12c, due out next year. The database will be able to call into Solaris using Dtrace, Solaris' debugging tool. According to Flierl, that will give database administrators the ability to get an "end-to-end view" of how Solaris and the database are working -- or not working -- and adjust accordingly.

Oracle Solaris 11.1 and cloud computing

Another focus of the Solaris 11.1 update is cloud computing, though Gillen said some of the features may actually be premature.

One general feature that could benefit cloud deployments is the Federated File System, which creates a global namespace for the file system, Flierl said. He added that federated naming allows database and system administrators to more easily move resources more easily between servers, in and out of the cloud, and connect to multiple data streams and storage systems without confusion.

Most Solaris customers, however, are not deploying clouds in their own data centers today, so some of the features of Oracle Solaris 11.1 might not be relevant for many Solaris users for years, Gillen said. "The features are interesting but not necessarily actionable by as many customers as you might think," he said. "They might not be beneficial for today, but could set them up in the long term."

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