Monday, November 26, 2007

Red Hat vs. Oracle Unbreakable Linux (vs. Microsoft???)

From Daily Tech:

Oracle is probably known in the open source community for its code contribution of the Oracle Cluster File System, which is optimized for Oracle databases but included with the 2.6.16 Linux kernel....

Oracle believes its announcement of the Xen-based Oracle VM virtualization software will create an advantage over Red Hat, even though Red Hat uses the same Xen software in its Linux distributions. It wouldn't be surprising to see if virtualization software is one of the keys to determine who will hold enterprise Linux superiority next year.

A key difference between Red Hat and Oracle is the software stack that caters to users: "We have a single stack of code that includes Oracle VM and Linux. This is a very high quality, optimized VM. This is not the same code as what Red Hat delivers," Ellison said during the event. Not surprisingly, developers made sure Unbreakable Linux has been fully optimized for Oracle programs.

Another view from a Fedora evangelist:

Because I work for Red Hat a lot of folks assume that I _represent_ Red Hat, which could not be further from the truth. I participate in Fedora (like other Red Hatters) completely outside of my day job - something that also seemed to surprise a few folks. It sounds like a disclaimer when I say this, but it’s an important distinction to make. No, I don’t have any inside info about Oracle! Though I did have a good chuckle when I saw a full page ad for Unbreakable Linux on the back cover of the Economist. Sigh… For people who ask my opinion on the subject (as many did last night) it is this: I’m not worried.

And Matthew Aslett thinks that Microsoft, not Red Hat, may be the true target (though Red Hat is targeted also):

As I sat watching Larry Ellison’s keynote at Oracle occurred to me that something was not quite right. This is the end of a year in which Oracle released a major new version of its flagship Database product and made a number of acquisitions....This is also the start of the year in which Oracle will roll-out its first Fusion Applications following its acquisitions of PeopleSoft, Siebel et al. And yet here was Ellison talking about Linux....

At OpenWorld it became increasingly clear that Oracle’s strategy is to own as many customer ‘touch points” as it can. The company will tell you this is so it can provide customers with more value and increased services, but locking out the competition is a nice little side win.

As I mentioned earlier this week, that’s what Oracle VM appears to be all about. With Oracle VM and Unbreakable Linux Oracle can now claim to provide customers with everything that sits on top of its server hardware. It’s no coincidence that the company will not be certifying its database and applications on other virtualization software.

Since the launch of Unbreakable Linux there has been a lot of attention paid to the impact on Red Hat, but to some extent that is a sideshow. The real competition here remains Microsoft. Microsoft is the only ISV that has the same breadth and depth of Oracle, apart from the fact that its stack does not run on anything other than Windows.

To put it simply: a win for Linux is a win for Oracle....

The only problem for Oracle is that a win for Linux introduces a new third party that stands between its software and its customers. The clear solution to that is for Oracle to acquire a Linux distribution. Maybe one day it will, although I think the company is very aware that an Oracle-owned code base would diminish the value that customers see in Linux. An Oracle-supported code base is slightly different conceptually, while the result - Oracle owning the customer relationship - is the same.

You could question why Oracle is paying so much attention to Linux given that its revenue from Unbreakable is tiny in comparison to the other areas of its business but that, in my view, misses the point. It isn’t really important for Oracle to make money from Unbreakable Linux (or Oracle VM), what is important is that it strengthens Oracle’s relationship with its customers and keeps competitors out.

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