Oracle recently extended paid support and updates for Solaris 11.4 through 2037, extending the previously scheduled deadline by three years. A similar decision was made last year for previous versions of the operating system.
Solaris is a proprietary Unix operating system that Oracle acquired together with Sun Microsystems in 2010. Paired with Sun's SPARC hardware, the operating system proved an unusually scalable and reliable solution in its time, and Sun's early focus on web-scale technologies made it a popular choice for Web pioneers 1.0.
However, at the time of Oracle's acquisition of Sun, Solaris was already well underway on its journey into legacy technology. And in 2018, Oracle all but confirmed this status by halting development of a major update and freezing the operating system at version 11.4, in addition to ongoing patch and package updates.
Recognizing that Solaris is the type of tool and operating system that powers mission-critical applications that may run for decades, Oracle has promised to offer ongoing support and updates for Solaris well into the future – but without further high-impact releases.
Big Red offers three types of support:
- Premier support Oracle is focused on maintaining Sun hardware and embedded software, such as firmware. This type of support is essential to ensure that hardware performs to the best of its ability, maintaining system efficiency and security. Firmware, in particular, is a critical component that acts as the interface between the server hardware and the operating system, and its regular maintenance is crucial to prevent vulnerabilities and compatibility issues.
- Extended support goes further, offering paid maintenance and updates for Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux. This level of support is especially useful for organizations that need to keep their operating systems updated with the latest security patches and performance improvements. This type of support ensures that systems are protected from the latest security threats and optimized for today's needs.
- Sustaining support offers indefinite access to Oracle support tools and patches, as well as providing “assistance from technical support experts.” This level of support is ideal for organizations that require extreme longevity from their systems and need constant access to technical support and updates, even after standard versions of support have ended. This way, even older platforms can continue to function effectively and securely, ensuring the operational continuity of mission-critical applications that depend on these technologies.
Solaris 11.4 was under Premier Support until 2031, Extended Support until 2034, and Oracle promised Sustaining Support indefinitely.
However, Oracle quietly updated its policy last week lifetime support [PDF], stating that extended support for Solaris 11.4 will continue through 2037. The 2031 date for the end of Premier Support remains unchanged.
During 2023, Oracle added three more years of Extended Support to Solaris 10 and Solaris 11.3, both of which will now enter the realm of Sustaining Support in 2027 instead of 2024.
These extensions should not be interpreted as a sign of enthusiasm for Solaris. Oracle continues to encourage the migration of Solaris applications to version 11.4 and has sought to make those efforts easier by packaging the operating system in forms more accessible to developers.
But it's clear that there are still Solaris users out there who see the operating system as an important part of their future and are willing to pay for the privilege. Oracle is certainly not a charity and would not have extended support if it were not profitable.