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Solaris 11 vs. OpenIndiana 2 comments

With the dust settling from the unveiling of Solaris 11 Express, it’s time to do a bit of crystal ball work and see what this means for companies deploying Solaris infrastructure.

There are enough new changes here that a lot of people out there are going to get burnt. If you haven’t been keeping up with the OpenSolaris project, or using OpenIndiana, then IPS, AI, and ZFS root are all going to cause you problems. Not to mention /usr/gnu/bin being first in the PATH.

As I’ve said before, IPS and AI still don’t strike me as mature enough to deploy in an enterprise, and I know a lot of people who have spent many years honing Jumpstart who are going to be more than a little cross that there’s no clear migration path to AI.

“Trash it and start again” isn’t a nice upgrade path – the new way of doing things may be cleaner, easier to learn, and make more sense to Linux admins – but it’s a big, fundamental change for Solaris/SPARC shops, and those are the people that pay the bills.

There’s lots of UltraSPARC III and IV kit out there that’s getting towards the end of it’s service life. People are now looking at upgrade paths, and Solaris 11 – and Oracle’s complete offering of tin+OS+support – is going to be the real make-or-break decision point.

The real kicker will be – how soon until Oracle start shipping systems with Solaris 11 installed by default? That will be the real driver that pushed people to deploy Solaris 11 – with no UFS root, no slices, there’s no real reason not to use the pre-installed OS on the tin. Smaller shops with less existing Solaris infrastructure will deploy and think “Hmm, that wasn’t too bad”. Larger shops will find less and less of a reason to put off the migration, especially as the deployed base builds with new kit shipments.

Personally, I’ve been waiting for ZFS encryption for a long, long time – and I’m more than a little suspicious that it’s been held back (in the source as well) until Oracle are suddenly fielding the next commercial Solaris release. I’m sure the Nexenta guys are having similar thoughts.

On the plus side, Solaris 11 Express using the OpenSolaris code base means it makes a lot of sense to deploy it in test environments, and then use OpenIndiana for production. I can see a lot of smaller shops doing this – either having tried out Solaris 11 and then balking at the support costs, or trying OpenIndiana and then seeing there’s not much difference there (apart from the support costs and a few ZFS features).

The real challenge for Oracle here is how well they can make the entire Solaris 11 package work for customers. Higher support costs are fine if you get increased value, but increasingly even larger companies are finding that the support costs are more of a tax – an entry price for playing at the table – rather than a value-add.

OpenIndiana has the potential to be a very big winner here.

There’s some real value in Solaris 11, and some key new features that continue to make it the best operating environment for the enterprise. Are those features – and the support – enough to justify the higher costs compared to OpenIndiana? Is the vertical integration that Oracle are offering enough to justify the higher costs compared to deploying Red Hat on cheaper hardware?

At this stage I’d say it’s still too close to call.

Exploring Solaris Auto-Registration Comments Off on Exploring Solaris Auto-Registration

Last night I gave a presentation to LOSUG about Solaris Auto-Registration. Well, actually, auto registration was a part of it, but it also got into service tags (which I think are pretty cool).

The main point of all of this was to use auto registration and service tags as a way of showing how you need to poke and pull apart new features and applications to understand how they work. Only once you have that understanding can you make an informed choice on where or how to implement them.

A copy of the presentation in PDF format can be downloaded here:exploring_solaris_autoregistration.pdf

I hope people find it interesting, and that it encourages you to do some hacking around in your own infrastructure.

Solaris 11 Express is out Comments Off on Solaris 11 Express is out

Well, the covers have come off and Solaris 11 Express is out. This is going to come as a shock to any Solaris sysadmin who hasn’t played with OpenSolaris or OpenIndiana.

Out with the old:

  • no more UFS root
  • no more patch* commands
  • SVR4 packaging is still there, but deprecated in favour of IPS
  • no more Jumpstart
  • no more flash archives

In with the new:

  • ZFS everywhere
  • ZFS de-duplication
  • ZFS encryption
  • ZFS diff – see the changes between ZFS snapshots
  • AI (the Automated Installer) is how you’re going to be installing Solaris 11
  • IPS is the default packaging/patching system
  • the root account is now an RBAC role

Solaris 11 Express is basically free for any use other than production. The default IPS repository will be updated with critical bug fixes and security patches (think the old Recommended patch clusters) and there is a support repository, for those who have support contracts, which will have full access to all patches and updates.

Solaris 11 Express also qualifies for Oracle Premier Support. If you have SPARC kit, you’ll need at least OBP version 4.17 to use the Automated Installer (AI), but it looks like you can still use the text installer with older OBP versions.

You can find more details in the Solaris 11 Express FAQ.

snv_151 seems to be the the ON build used, which is a bit newer than snv_147 used for OpenIndiana (the team are working on an oi_148 release at the moment – have a look at the OpenIndiana Wiki)

All in all, Solaris 11 Express looks to be pretty much what was expected. It’s going to be ‘commercial’ OpenSolaris – it was pretty much always my understanding that OpenSolaris would push new features, and that those would be rolled into the Solaris product as and when they matured. Things didn’t quite work out that way over the last few years – OpenSolaris became too new, with too many new features, and with the dropping of Solaris SX:CE, there was no real merging of products going on.

What I want to know is – how will JASS work with the new operating environment?

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