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Insights, news and announcements for Oracle Systems products

An Update on Oracle Solaris and SPARC Infrastructure

Renato Ribeiro
Sr. Director, Oracle Solaris and SPARC

Oracle Solaris is the trusted business platform that you depend on. The Oracle Solaris 11 Operating System (OS) gives you consistent compatibility, is simple to use and is designed to always be secure. The Oracle Solaris OS is designed to deliver a consistent platform to run your enterprise applications. It is the trusted solution for running both modern and legacy applications on the newest system hardware while providing the latest innovations. Our administrative interfaces are simple to use and protect your business from error prone mistakes that could cost you critical downtime. All our technologies have been engineered for security and compliance from day one, allowing you to protect your business with a comprehensive defense in depth strategy that is easy to apply.

Oracle’s SPARC systems running Oracle Solaris provide the most advanced platform for enterprise computing, with unique capabilities that provide up to 2x faster performance for databases and Java applications compared with competitors’ systems as well as end-to-end security features for maximum protection. Using breakthrough second-generation Software in Silicon technology and co-engineering of Oracle hardware and software, Oracle’s family of SPARC systems is ideal for Java software, databases, and enterprise applications, and the servers’ rich feature set provides the foundation for building the best and most secure mission-critical IT infrastructure. Complementing such technology leadership is a development model that favors investment protection for your data center deployments. By offering features such as guaranteed binary compatibility, and system lifetime support, SPARC systems is a consistent platform that lets you adopt new technology and applications at your own pace.

Oracle Solaris

We have been designing the Oracle Solaris OS for over two decades, always making sure we have engineered in features to meet the latest technology innovations while maintaining backward compatibility. The Oracle Solaris OS simplifies the system life-cycle, application life-cycle, and cloud capabilities, enabling you to adapt to business needs quickly and run your data center with the utmost confidence and efficiency.

Oracle Solaris is engineered for security at every level. It allows you to mitigate risk and prove on-premises and cloud compliance easily, so you can spend time innovating while reducing risk. Oracle Solaris combines the power of industry standard security features, unique security and anti-malware capabilities, and compliance management tools for low risk application deployments and cloud infrastructure. Oracle's hardware systems and Oracle's SPARC Software in Silicon provide the anti-malware trust anchors, accelerate cryptography, and protection from memory attacks.

Oracle Solaris 11.4 was released in August 2018, and following our continuous delivery release process several updates are already available (see here the latest update as of this writing). The next paragraphs describe in more detail some of the key advantages and features of the Oracle Solaris OS.

A Secure Platform

The Oracle Solaris enterprise-grade access management includes multi-factor authentication and time-based controls, together with remote auditing, logging and alerting. This can help you detect and stop unauthorized intrusions. Oracle Solaris Zones, especially Immutable Zones, are an incredibly useful tool for building isolation into your environment to protect applications and your data center from cyber attack or even just administrative error. It also helps keep systems compliant after a deployment.

Oracle Solaris delivers an integrated deployment workflow, which helps you stay secure and compliant from the beginning. In addition, Oracle Solaris provides a robust and extensive compliance framework. You can setup compliance to either pull a compliance assessment to all systems with a single command and review the results in a single location, or you can setup your systems to regularly generate their compliance reports and push them to a central server where they can also be viewed via a single report. This makes maintaining compliance across your data center easy and effective.

The combination of the Oracle Solaris OS and Oracle SPARC systems delivers a cryptographic platform that automatically accelerates Java, Oracle Database, OpenSSL, and many other custom applications. You can protect your data while at rest and in motion. Since the cryptography is accelerated through hardware, the overhead is near-zero. Java libraries directly call crypto accelerators through the Oracle Solaris Cryptographic Framework. Security options such as Oracle Advanced Security Transparent Data Encryption for Oracle Database also utilize hardware crypto acceleration in the SPARC systems automatically. Oracle Solaris VMs in transit during live migration are fully encrypted delivering no service loss and no performance loss.

Powerful Observability

The Oracle Solaris StatsStore provides powerful and actionable data that helps you identify trends and isolate potential issues, allowing you to easily retrieve and analyze a rich set of stats to help find what you are looking for. The StatsStore is fully integrated and always on, which means that you can get data that wouldn't otherwise be available, and you can get it continuously if necessary.You can go back in time and look at historical trends and data gathered last night, last week or even months ago. This greatly extends the types of stats that you can gather on the application and OS running on the server. The StatsStore comes with a very easy to use intuitive web interface, which provides standard dashboards to the OS and some applications, and allows customization to fit your specific monitoring and business needs. You can also feed the metrics gathered through the StatsStore to a monitoring tool of your choice.

Simplicity and Consistency

The virtualization capabilities in Oracle Solaris makes migrating applications between systems fast and easy. In-depth pre-flight compatibility checks reduce risk on deployment, while virtualization tools can help streamline the movement of complex workloads. You can use this framework to modernize an application running on an older version of Oracle Solaris, and place them into Oracle Solaris Zones or Legacy Containers running on top of the latest update of Oracle Solaris 11. That way you can consolidate legacy applications into new servers, while taking advantage of up-to-date security and functionality.

Run Oracle on Oracle

Oracle Solaris is optimized to complement the complete Oracle hardware and software stack. Joint innovations, co-engineered projects, and specific optimizations make Oracle Solaris the best platform for your database, middleware, and application deployments. Oracle Solaris is optimized for Oracle Database and Java applications to deliver faster performance and startup times. The new StatsStore Oracle Database Sheet allows you to correlate performance data coming from both the Oracle Database and Oracle Solaris in one location. With the combination of Oracle Solaris and Oracle SPARC you can ensure your infrastructure is secure by leveraging SPARC Silicon Secured Memory, which delivers hardware enforced anti-malware protection.

Binary Compatibility Guarantee

Oracle Solaris is designed and tested to protect your investment. The Oracle Solaris Binary Application Guarantee reflects Oracle’s confidence in the compatibility of applications from one release of Oracle Solaris to the next, so you can rest assured your applications will continue to run. The Oracle Solaris Application Binary Guarantee is the key to application portability since a legacy Oracle Solaris application running on an on-premises system is guaranteed to run on the latest version of Oracle Solaris without an application recompile. This assures seamless application portability between dev/test and production environments, as well as portability from on-premises to cloud and back. This level of investment protection is unique in the industry.

Continuous Delivery Model

Since 2017 Oracle Solaris moved to a continuous delivery model using more frequent updates to deliver the latest features faster, while fully preserving customer and ISV qualification investment. New features and functionality are delivered in Oracle Solaris through small releases, or support readiness updates, instead of more disruptive major releases, consistent with trends seen throughout the industry. This addresses customer requirements for an agile and smooth transition path between versions, while providing ongoing innovation with assured investment protection. By moving to a continuous delivery model based on Oracle Solaris 11, customers will have a seamless update experience to better fit their move to agile deployment models. 

Deploy with Confidence

Oracle has documented that - according to our Oracle Lifetime Support Policy: Oracle and Sun System Software - we will provide Oracle Premier Support for Oracle Solaris 11 until at least 2031, and Oracle Extended Support until at least 2034. That provides great peace of mind to you and your organization, with the confidence that your mission critical infrastructure will continue to be efficient and secure.

Oracle SPARC

Oracle’s latest line of SPARC systems is the best enterprise platform for running Oracle Database, Java and enterprise apps. Leveraging the most powerful processors, the most advanced security, and the unique features in Oracle Solaris 11, these systems are years ahead of what other competing enterprise platforms can offer. With no compromises on enterprise security and extreme performance for Java, databases, and analytics, Oracle’s SPARC platform is optimized for deployment in cloud-ready infrastructure.

Oracle’s SPARC platform offers end-to-end network and data encryption, plus detection and prevention of unauthorized access to application memory, all in real time and with near-zero performance impact. The Security in Silicon features can stop security breaches through hardware, creating a unique barrier to malicious attacks and software errors. Coupled with the security features in the Oracle Solaris 11 operating system, storage, database, and application software, Oracle provides a layered defense strategy across the entire stack to protect your environment from business-damaging attacks.

Software in Silicon

Software in Silicon technology, now in its second generation, is a breakthrough in microprocessor and server design, enabling databases and applications to run faster and with unprecedented security and reliability. Each Oracle SPARC processor core contains the fastest cryptographic acceleration in the industry, allowing IT organizations to deliver end-to-end data encryption and secure transactions with near-zero performance impact. In other words, you can easily activate data protection and encryption security, by default, without additional hardware investment.

This innovative technology also includes Data Analytics Accelerator (DAX) units designed directly into the SPARC processor’s silicon to handle SQL primitives, such as those used by Oracle Database In-Memory in Oracle Database 12c and later. This produces extreme acceleration of in-memory queries and analytics operations while freeing processor cores to do other useful work. In addition, the ability of the DAX units to handle compressed data on the fly means that larger databases can be kept in memory, or that less server memory needs to be configured for a given database size. Consider the result: you can run fast in-memory analytics on your database, using much less memory than the size of your data, without significantly increasing server utilization rates or affecting your OLTP operations.

The Silicon Secured Memory feature of the SPARC processors provides the capability of detecting and preventing invalid operations on application data, through hardware monitoring of software access to memory. This can stop malware from exploiting software vulnerabilities, such as buffer overflows. The hardware approach of Silicon Secured Memory is much faster than traditional software-based detection tools, so security checks can be done in production without significant impact to performance.

Performance Leadership

Oracle has performed millions of hours of testing on SPARC systems and Oracle Solaris, in order to optimize the SPARC cores for Oracle Database and Java applications. Execution traces of real-world workloads were used to create extremely powerful cores, and scalable, mature multi-threading technology provides up to 8 execution threads per core. The utilization of advanced microprocessor technology allowed the delivery of the first ever enterprise processors with 32 cores, used for mid-range and high-end systems, as well as processors with 8 cores for entry-level, efficient systems. Leveraging all these technology developments, Oracle’s SPARC systems have demonstrated up to 2x performance per chip, compared with competing platforms.

Investment Protection

Oracle’s SPARC platform currently includes SPARC M8, M7 and S7-based systems. Our engineering teams constantly evaluate enhancements in I/O and storage options for SPARC systems, which also benefit from Oracle Solaris advancements delivered through its continuous delivery model.

With Oracle’s SPARC platform your investment is well protected. Oracle’s Lifetime Support Policy for hardware ensures that you do not have to replace your existing environment before you, and your applications, are ready for an upgrade. When you are ready, our Oracle Solaris Application Binary Guarantee enables seamless expansion to modern SPARC-based systems.

Performance Notes

Performance information for Oracle’s SPARC systems is available at http://blogs.oracle.com/bestperf

SPEC and the benchmark name SPECjEnterprise are registered trademarks of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation. Results from www.spec.org as of 9/28/2017. SPARC T8-1, 34,259.69 SPECjEnterprise2010 EjOPS (unsecure); SPARC T8-1, 32,622.97 SPECjEnterprise2010 EjOPS (secure); SPARC S7-2, 14,400.78 SPECjEnterprise2010 EjOPS (unsecure); SPARC S7-2, 14,121.47 SPECjEnterprise2010 EjOPS (secure).

SPEC and the benchmark name SPECjbb are registered trademarks of Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC). Results from http://www.spec.org as of 03/29/2019. SPARC T8-1 153,532 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 89,980 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM critical-jOPS; HP ProLiant DL380 Gen10 74,086 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 62,592 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM critical-jOPS; HP ProLiant DL380 Gen10 84,142 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 25,431 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM critical-jOPS; IBM Power S812LC 44,883 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 13,032 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM critical-jOPS; IBM Power S924 165,581 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 56,942 SPECjbb2015-MultiJVM critical-jOPS.