Author Michael Ernest published the OCA Oracle Solaris 11 System Administration Exam Guide this year. In addition to publishing an excerpt from the book, SearchOracle talked to Ernest about Solaris 11 certification, including topics about the new release such as new features and supported hardware changes.
You write that Solaris 11 makes older releases "look like toys." Can you give an example?
Michael Ernest: Solaris 10 brought a number of new technologies into the admin's view: DTrace, ZFS, SMF, and Zones in particular. In Solaris 11, there's more leveraging of these technologies. Relying on ZFS as a root file system, for example, you can patch the kernel or roll back such a change with minimal disruption to the system and without maintaining additional boot environments. Zones now supports dynamic resource management and dynamic virtual network allocations. SMF services are more closely tied to core configuration services such as name services. Those are three examples, but you get the idea: It all amounts to less manual work for the admin.
For Solaris administrators who have been around for several versions, what do you think is the most important aspect of Solaris 11 that they should focus on and learn about?
Ernest: In my perfect world, DTrace, which came out with Solaris 10. DTrace changed the game in analyzing system and process performance. It is, alas, a tough sell to many admins who just want to keep their critical apps running. That aside, I'd name two: the new network tools, principally dladm and ipadm, and the Automated Installer. The latter replaces JumpStart; the shops that invested heavily in it can't be too excited about anything that looks like change for its own sake. But once people figure out AI also leverages ZFS, SMF and Zones to their advantage, they'll see the light.
Solaris 11 expert answers
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You write about the supported hardware for Solaris 11. With Oracle's decreased focus on x86 and increased focus on SPARC, do you think support for Solaris on x86 will eventually go away? Why or why not?
Ernest: Go away, no; diminish, yes. Oracle's view of the commodity hardware market zeroed in on Linux a couple years prior. I don't see how Solaris augments that particular view. And I'm just confused by the decision to part ways with OpenSolaris and close their source. I don't think Oracle will yank support for Solaris ever, but I can imagine how a slighted market might make that decision for them.