Oracle takes on Red Hat

By   |  October 26, 2006

Six months ago Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison said that the software giant was looking for an operating system to complete its software stack. Most commentators suggested this was likely to be a Linux OS and rumours of a buyout – perhaps of Red Hat – quickly began to circulate.

The rumours were wrong, however, and yesterday Oracle put an end to the speculation by announcing that the company would be offering specific and full support for Red Hat Linux and taking on the Linux giant head-on.

During his closing keynote at the San Francisco Oracle OpenWorld conference yesterday, Ellison made the announcement, creating something of a buzz in the Linux world. The announcement put to an end the many of months of speculation around a possible buyout that has included names like red Hat and Ubuntu Linux.

Ellison said that the market was crying out for enterprise-level support for Red Hat at a reasonable price. In a release yesterday the company said: “Currently Red Hat only provides bug fixes for the latest version of its software. This often requires customers to upgrade to a new version of Linux software to get a bug fixed. Oracle’s new Unbreakable Linux programme will provide bug fixes to future, current, and back releases of Linux. In other words, Oracle will provide the same level of enterprise support for Linux as is available for other operating systems.”

Oracle is also planning to offer its “Unbreakable Linux” programme for substantially less than Red Hat currently charges for its best support. “We believe that better support and lower support prices will speed the adoption of Linux, and we are working closely with our partners to make that happen,” said Ellison.

While the news has been greeted by many in the industry, including Linux advocates, as a move that will strengthen Linux, there are some that worry this may spell bad news for Red Hat. Ellison’s announcement means that Red Hat now has a competitor with the scale and resources to take their business away.

ITWire reports that responding to questions from the audience, in typical style, Ellison denied that Oracle’s move threatened to kill Red Hat’s business. “This is capitalism. We’re competing. We’re offering a better product at a lower price,” he said.

“However, the fact is that six months ago Ellison revealed that he would like Oracle to own the whole software stack, which of course includes an operating system. He also revealed that he had considered acquiring Red Hat but that the company was too expensive and that if Oracle wanted to, it could simply take the Red Hat software and embed it in its own Linux product. The latest move by Oracle could be viewed as a step in that direction,” writes ITWire.

The announcement was also peppered with supportive statements from most, if not all, the big vendors. Dell, Intel, HP, IBM, Accenture, AMD, BP, EMC, BMC, and NetApp were among the big names listed as having signed up for the “Unbreakable Linux” programme.

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