Prior to the release of Oracle Solaris 11, the default archive solution was the Oracle Solaris Flash Archive. Introduced before the wide adoption of virtual systems, flash archives were designed to create and deploy OS instances of and to bare metal systems. Flash archives capture file system data from a running system along with system-related metadata. These archives are commonly used in pre-Oracle Solaris 11 environments to enable system recovery operations, as well as to achieve the creation and deployment of custom images.
With the introduction of boot environments (BEs), the Image Packaging System (IPS), and virtualization technologies systems such as Zones and LDOMs, a more robust archive solution is possible. Unified Archives employs these technologies and provides a much more flexible and extensible solution. It includes support for virtualized environments, such as zones, and cross-platform portability within the same hardware architecture.