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Solaris plan brings continuous delivery of OS upgrades

Oracle reckons killing big bang OS releases also kills application upgrade hassles

Oracle has released a little more detail about the future of its Solaris operating system, after last week suddenly revealing a planned version 12 would be canned.

In a new post, the company says “Oracle Solaris is moving to a continuous delivery model using more frequent updates to deliver the latest features faster, while fully preserving customer and ISV qualification investment in the vast array of ISV applications available on Oracle Solaris 11 today.”

“New features and functionality will be delivered in Oracle Solaris through dot releases 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.”

Let's try to parse this, shall we?

Continuous delivery is certainly what the cool kids are doing with software these days, so it's hard to fault Oracle on that front. And upgrades to major OS releases can be painful for ISVs and users alike. Removing the need to cope with big releases isn't terrible news.

But Oracle's said full releases are “more disruptive” than its planned dot releases. So it seems Big Red isn't telling users they're going to be completely freed from future upgrade projects.

Calling the new arrangements “consistent with trends seen throughout the industry” is also a bit naughty. Linux certainly practices continuous delivery: we get a new point release about every six weeks and .0 releases no longer denote major changes. AIX moves ahead with service packs. But Windows Server still does big bang releases and expects that practice to continue for a sequel to Windows Server 2016.

On the desktop, Windows 10 has adopted regular releases plus middling-bang new versions that roll up lots of new features.

“Assured investment protection” is supportable, as Oracle has extended support for Solaris 11 to November 2031 for Premier Support and November 2034 for Extended Support. Even users of custom apps tightly coupled to Solaris should be satisfied with news they can expect support for 17 years. Even Solaris 10 has another four years of support left, so there's plenty of time for 10-to-11 migrations too.

What we don't know yet is the cadence for Solaris releases or what's coming for the OS.

We do, however, know that Oracle thinks it is on a winner here as last week it said the new regime was developed “As a direct response to customer requests”.

If you're a Solaris user who agrees, or thinks otherwise, do let us know in the comments or by getting in touch. ®

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