Thinking about how much Solaris 11 is worth to us

February 26, 2013

As a result of some feedback I've gotten on earlier entries I've wound up thinking about what I'll summarize as how much Solaris 11 is worth to us, ie what we might pay for it. To start with, is it worth anything at all?

My answer is 'yes, under the right circumstances' (one of those circumstances being that we get source code). Despite what I've said in the past about Illumos and FreeBSD, Solaris 11 is still in many ways the least risky option for us. It's not perfect but to put it one way it's the devil we know. I still have uncertainties about Oracle's actual commitment to it but then I have the same issues with Illumos.

So, how much would we pay for Solaris 11? Unfortunately I think the answer to that is 'not very much'. It's not zero (we've paid for Solaris before) but our actual budget is not very big and the direct benefits to using Solaris 11 are only moderate. My guess is that $100 a server a year would be acceptable (call it $1000 a year total), $200/server/year would be at best marginal, and more than that is really unlikely. It'd be very hard to argue that using Solaris 11 over a carefully validated FreeBSD configuration would be worth $2k/year.

(To put it one way, the larger the amount of money involved the more it looks like we (the sysadmins) are trying to just spend money instead of taking the time to do our job to carefully build a working environment. It would be one thing if the alternatives were clearly incapable and Solaris 11 was the only choice, but they're not and it isn't. Given the university attitude on staff time, we can't even argue that the savings in staff time are worth the expense.)

PS: the question of whether Oracle would give us either Solaris 11 source code or prices anywhere near this low is an entirely different matter. My personal expectation is that either issue would be met with the polite version of hysterical laughter, given that comparatively speaking we're an insignificant flyspeck.

Written on 26 February 2013.
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Last modified: Tue Feb 26 21:17:44 2013
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