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Oracle melds its 'cloud OS' with OpenStack in Solaris 11.2 release

Second update covers the former Sun system with cloudy goodness

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Former Unix server customers are continuing the march toward Linux and for many there's no looking back, but that hasn't stopped Oracle from continuing development of Solaris Unix – albeit slowly.

On Tuesday, the database giant staged an event in New York to announce Solaris 11.2, which is only the second point release of the former Sun product since Solaris 11 shipped in November 2011, the last being in 2012.

But even though the OS is only getting a minor version-number bump, that doesn't mean it doesn't include significant updates, according to the Solaris product director Larry Wake. It's just that the new stuff shouldn't break any existing systems.

"In fact, what the dot really means is that we've incorporated some noteworthy changes in such a way that we're not leaving anything, or anyone, behind," Wake wrote in a blog post last week. "This is Oracle Solaris 11, only more so. The reason that it's a dot is that there are no concerns for existing '11' end users and developers about how to integrate this into their environments."

At the 2011 launch, Oracle pitched Solaris 11 as "the first cloud OS," and predictably it's continuing that theme with the new release. Most of the new features have a cloudy bent, even if Oracle's increasingly niche OS is more likely to be deployed on private clouds than public ones.

Most significantly, Solaris 11.2 now comes bundled with a complete OpenStack distribution. Oracle joined the OpenStack bandwagon in December and said at the time that it planned to integrate support for the open source cloud tech across multiple products, including Solaris and Oracle Linux.

With OpenStack support Solaris, customers will now be able to manage their Solaris VMs from the same OpenStack dashboard as their KVM and ESX instances. And to sweeten the pot, the release also bundles the popular Puppet IT automation software to help speed provisioning, configuration, software management, and other repetitive tasks.

Also new are Unified Archives, a new form of backup and archiving that allows admins to clone their entire environments for disaster recovery or quick provisioning in the cloud. To show off the new tech, Oracle has even provided a canned Unified Archive for OpenStack that makes it possible to spin up a single node Solaris OpenStack system "in a matter of minutes."

A new, application-driven software defined networking feature (SDN) allows applications to prioritize their own traffic via networking flows that can be used to specify service level agreements (SLAs) within the data center.

There have also been numerous virtualization improvements, including the ability to dynamically reconfigure Solaris Zones without a reboot and support for automated Zone renaming. In addition, new Kernel Zones can run different kernel versions from the global zone and can be patched without requiring a reboot of the global Zone.

For a detailed breakdown of all of the new features in Solaris 11.2, you can check the formal release notes, here. You can also download the OS and try it out for yourself, but so far it's only in beta. Oracle says to expect the final release to ship in the summer. ®

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