Oracle tag teams Solaris and Linux
If you want to know what Oracle's roadmap is for Linux, just watch what Red Hat does. Oracle Enterprise Linux is just a clone of RHEL. Getting a sense of what Oracle really has planned for Solaris - aside from deploying it in SMP systems and clusters - is going to take some time. Oracle's plans for virtualization and system management are more clear.
For now, it seems, Solaris shops are going to have to made-do with praise from Oracle executives, starting at the top, with chief executive office Larry Ellison. That praise for Solaris is not going to fall on deaf ears. Those will be welcome words to the more than 50,000 customers worldwide, by Oracle's count, who deploy Solaris to run mission-critical and other applications.
But don't get the wrong idea. Oracle loves Linux too, and Edward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect and the person in charge of all of Oracle's open source products, said that Oracle now has more than 4,000 shops paying for support on its Enterprise Linux clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Oracle, Screven said, will invest in and support both Solaris and Linux.
"We have no problem having both Linux and Solaris," explained Ellison in a question and answer session after the five hours of presentations from the Oracle troops involved with the integration of Sun. "They are different products for different customers and different markets."
And despite how IBM has ascended the Unix market in the past decade, knocking Sun from its perch, Ellison remains optimistic about Unix in general and downright cheerful about Solaris in particular.
"Unix still does well in the high-end," Ellison said, adding that while Solaris can run in a single server or workstation, what Oracle was really interested in was clusters of systems and big iron boxes. And despite the warmth that other Oracle executives gave to big SMP boxes from Fujitsu, which Oracle now resells, Oracle has expressed disdain for more than a decade for such machines in favor of clusters - right up to the point where it sends the invoice to a big Unix SMP or mainframe shop, that is.
Ellison said he was keen on seeing Solaris running on clusters, presumably machines like the Exadata 2 (which runs on x64 processors and uses Linux, not Solaris, as its operating system).
"I think Solaris is way far advanced, and I love Linux, but I think Solaris is a more capable operating system," Ellison said. "I think Solaris' home is in the high-end of the data center, and it will be a long time before Linux catches up. I don't think the high end is in trouble at all."
No one at the Oracle-Sun event talked about the schedule for Solaris 11, which was expected around the middle of this year  as the Oracle dance Sun was beginning last April. No one talked about the OpenSolaris project, which is the open source development release for Solaris from whence the new commercial releases eventually spring forth.
Screven did say that the majority of Oracle customers run on Solaris or Linux and that Sun would optimize both operating systems for the "full stack from applications to disk" and deliver "world class" support for the lowest TCO for both Solaris and Linux.
It will be interesting to see how Oracle deals with Solaris on x64 iron, both its own as well as x64 boxes made by its systems rivals. Back in the dot-com bust, when Sun was late getting its UltraSparc-III processors to market and IBM was just revving up its Power product line, with ridiculously steep discounts, Sun decided not to support Solaris 9 on x86 machines and tried to push Sparc shops toward more expensive Sparc iron.
This left the door wide open for IBM, particularly with HP coping with issues with its Itanium product line at the time. With Intel and Advanced Micro Devices gearing up some pretty impressive iron, Oracle might be tempted to pull back on x64 support a little to emphasis its Sparc platforms. It is hard to believe this will work any better now that it did almost a decade ago.
Sun's virtualization strategy is simple enough: keep everything. So there's Oracle VM on x64 iron, based on the open source Xen hypervisor and a mix of management tools from Oracle and its acquired  Virtual Iron carcass. Oracle will continue to push the Oracle VM hypervisor for x64 iron, to virtualize Solaris, Linux, and Windows instances. And on Sparc T series chips made by Oracle, it will push Logical Domains (LDoms), a virtual machine partitioning technology similar in concept to Xen but only available on these Sparc T machines.
LDoms were expected on the UltraSparc-RK "Rock" processors that Sun killed last year, but they are not yet supported on Fujitsu Sparc64 chips. That latter bit needs to change if Oracle is planning to sell the Fujitsu iron for the long term. Fujitsu iron and older Sparc gear supports hardware partitioning called dynamic domains, which are not as dynamic as the name suggests.
Oracle is perfectly happy to push the Solaris containers, a kind of virtual private server hypervisor that allows a single Solaris kernel and file system to look like they are dozens, hundreds, or thousands of virtual Solaris boxes. (They have separate sandboxes for identity management and application runtimes).
And Oracle is happy for the VirtualBox type 2 hypervisor to be used on desktops and in development environments. The goal is to let developers create virtual machines in VirtualBox for testing and development and then let those applications be deployed in Oracle VM or LDom partitions. Oracle VM Manager, the management tool currently sold for Oracle VM and being beefed up with Virtual Iron goodies, will be extended to support LDoms running on Sparc iron.
Thomas Kurian, Oracle's executive vice president of product development, said that on the systems management front, Oracle would get to work on integrating Sun's Op Center systems management, bare metal and hypervisor provisioning, and monitoring tools with Oracle's Enterprise Manager - the tool Oracle created to manage virtual machines, its Linux variant, and its application, middleware, and database software running in production.
Oracle will make these management tools interoperable first, within the next six months, and then merge them into one product over the next two or three releases. (No word on how long that merger of tools will take). Op Center can already manage both Solaris and Linux operating systems, which will help the integration of the tools up a bit. ®