Oracle Solaris: What's Going On?

By Mark Benson, Esteem's Director of Marketing & Alliances

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you will probably have heard the rumours that Solaris is dead. Oracle is pulling away from SPARC and the future is not looking pretty for the legacy UNIX community.

This has led to a large amount of questions from both our customers and our internal technical teams about the future of SPARC/Solaris as a whole. The situation has not been helped by the fact that Oracle have dragged their heels on releasing a statement to market about what is actually going on.

So let's look at some of the statements being made and what they actually mean:

'Solaris 12 has been canned therefore Solaris development is stopping' - WRONG!

Oracle is still committed to Solaris and they are launching a new release model for the operating system. Instead of the standard major release every few years, Oracle will launch point releases of the operating system which will contain new features and functionality (view Oracle SPARC roadmap). Something that Microsoft are doing as well.

'Solaris 11 will not be supported in the near future' - WRONG!

Oracle has announced in a public letter to customers that they are going to extend support for Solaris 11 to 2031 for Premier Support and 2034 for Extended Support (see Oracle's recent post on this).

'Fujitsu are pulling away from SPARC and moving to Arm' - WRONG!

Fujitsu is indeed working with Arm on their new HPC platform but the fact is they are still developing SPARC systems in conjunction with Oracle and there are no current plans to change this. In fact, they have a similar roadmap to Oracle on their commitment to deliver new SPARC based systems for the next five years plus (see Fujitsu - Oracle roadmap).

'Oracle have made a number of redundancies in the SPARC/Solaris development team'

This statement is true and it is not uncommon for large vendors to downsize, just look at HP, IBM and Fujitsu to name a few. The fact is Oracle have just published a new roadmap for both Solaris and SPARC systems (view Oracle SPARC roadmap) and they have always either met or bettered the expected release dates of the last three systems. Add into this the advent of the new SPARC based engineered systems and I do not expect the SPARC chip to be going away any time soon.

Many people in the press and the industry have assumed no news is bad news. It's understandable. Oracle has not been great at communicating the facts with the wider community. The good news is that the platform has a strong future, a new public roadmap and the support is going to be available to loyal Solaris customers.

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