Oracle Solaris Review

Backwards compatibility and stability are the most valuable features.

What is most valuable?

Backwards compatibility and stability are the most valuable features.

What needs improvement?

The product is really good in and of itself. It does need more third-party support and applications.

What needs to be improved is the documentation. That's not an issue with the product per se, but the documentation lacks lots of things. It's very difficult to find related things. They are not referenced. When a document speaks about one topic, it almost never refers to related topics. That's a bad thing. Documentation speaks mostly about how to do things; it does not speak about why to do or not to do, when you have options. That's missing. Sun used to have such documentation. With Oracle, I don't see it.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using for over 20 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Everything crashes now and then, but Solaris crashes much less often than other operating systems. I am not even talking about Microsoft; I don't know anything about that. Even among other Unix types, Solaris is probably the most stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Evaluating scalability depends on what is meant by that term. You cannot go beyond the server, so whatever you have installed in the server is how far you can scale. However, depending on the application, if you can run your application in parallel on a number of machines, then it's scalable. That's not a feature of Solaris, it's a feature of the application.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is reasonably good, 6/10. Sun support used to be better, more technical. Oracle support for Solaris is probably more persistent, but you have to go through more stages to get to a high technical level. When the problem requires more than one type of support, the delay might be significant.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Probably more than half of the companies where I worked used Solaris, but not all of them. There were a few companies where I worked that were strictly Linux shops; no Solaris. The ones that did use Solaris chose it because it usually scales better in a vertical way. You can get a lot more performance out of a single machine. However, when applications can be scaled horizontally, it's usually cheaper to scale them on x86, which more or less means Linux, although not always.

What other advice do I have?

I don't know if I would recommend this solution. It depends on what and how they want to implement it. I definitely would not advise against it, but a lot depends on, not only on the applications, but also on the skill set that they have. If they have people who know Linux and no one who knows Solaris, go with Linux. I have seen system administrators who don't even know that Unix types other than Linux exist. So, asking them to do something on a different Unix operating system, be it Solaris or HP-UX or a long list of others, that's useless. They know only Linux.

That's probably more of a limiting factor than the application. I can run almost any application on Solaris or on Linux, although not with the same efficiency; that's a different story. Most of the time, Solaris will outperform Linux, but not always. Linux is more flexible, so if I need to make adjustments, they are typically easier to do on Linux.

However, the main thing when advising other companies what to do is: What kind of skill set do you have? What kind of skill set can you have? It's much easier to find people who at least claim to be Linux system administrators than Solaris. You almost have to be a dinosaur.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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