Oracle Solaris 11.2 Adds OpenStack for Engineered Cloud Solutions

Last Tuesday, Oracle announced release to beta of Solaris 11.2 — the third rev in recent years for this Unix-based OS, initially acquired with Sun Microsystems in 2010, and this time around, featuring a very deep level of OpenStack integration. Since Oracle joined the OpenStack Foundation as a corporate sponsor last year, the community has been waiting for OpenStack news from this major enterprise vendor. But many commentators seemed initially puzzled by the details and strategy implicit in Oracle’s Tuesday announcement, or even a bit snarky (see for GigaOm’s gut response).

OpenStack is indeed fully integrated, says Eric Saxe, Senior Engineering Manager for Solaris Core Technologies. Specifically, what Oracle seems to have done is integrate a derivative of Grizzly with (for now, Oracle-proprietary) drivers and other customizations integrating Solaris Zones virtualization with Nova (compute), Elastic Virtual Switch with Neutron (network), the ZFS (“boil the oceans”) file system with Cinder and Swift (block and image storage), and the new Solaris Unified Archives feature with Glance (image storage). The result is represented as a fully-engineered, complete operating system solution for creating and managing enterprise IaaS clouds. For the past several years, Oracle has made increasing use of the phrase ‘engineered solutions’ to refer to planning and delivery of purpose-built high performance and efficiency datacenter solutions comprising pre-integrated hardware and software.

From the looks of initial demo videos, tutorials and other resources, Oracle seems to have done a good job for their customers. Solaris 11.2 virtualization, cloud, file system and other features are said to be fully mapped into OpenStack, and these components seem to offer functional solutions to widely-acknowledged open cloud challenges like trusted compute, SLA compliance and data protection in multi-tenant environments. See, for example, this interview with Oracle’s Cindy Swearingen on what the ZFS file system and OpenStack-mapped Solaris 11.2 functionality can do to solve issues of tenant isolation and data security in an enterprise IaaS cloud.

Such a full (dare we say ‘engineered’?) mapping is unusual for starter OpenStack projects, many of which focus on creating and then upstreaming product drivers supporting the generic OpenStack base implementations for relevant features. Then again, the goal, in many cases, is to join the OpenStack party, whereas Oracle’s strategy seems to be more along the lines of inviting OpenStack to join the Oracle party. They’re talking now about having received internal approval to begin sharing code back, but haven’t done so yet (per StackAlytics). If Oracle begins opening up key products — not just drivers but also valuable and powerful code like ZFS — there will be many reasons to be cheerful.

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