One Oracle exec said there should be only one Linux distribution -- Red Hat -- and claimed there will be no fragmentation of that code base.
In an interview with the Linux Foundation recently, Oracle’s chief corporate architect said Oracle Unbreakable Linux is not a product but a support program and he believes that there ought to be only one Linux distribution -- his rival's code base.
“It’s really our desire to encourage the market to move to a single distribution. Red Hat has by far the largest market share in the data center, and especially for Oracle customers. So it made sense to pick Red Hat as our base,” said Edward Screven, Oracle’s chief corporate architect. “Now if the Red Hat and Novell numbers were reversed, we would have picked [Novell] SUSE.”
He contends that Red Hat and Novell should not try to compete with differentiated Linux distributions but purely on the support side of the business.
Oracle’s homegrown implementation of Red Hat – Oracle Unbreakable Linux -- was misunderstood as a separate Linux distribution when it was introduced in October of 2006, he said. The database and apps vendor will continue to back Red Hat's Linux code and won't cause fragmentation, Screven said.
“We don’t really view ourselves as being in the distribution business. We see ourselves as being in the Linux support business,” Screven said. “I think there’s an important difference there. I mean, we don’t try to compete by creating a differentiated distribution. We don’t try to compel customers to subscribe by withholding binaries. You know, anyone on the planet can download and use Oracle Enterprise Linux binaries for free. You know, if you want support from us, you pay us. But we’re not trying to compete in the distribution business."
The climate was a lot chillier when Oracle Unbreakable Linux launched 17 months ago, shortly after Red Hat acquired JBoss and formally entered the middleware race against Oracle.
Lest one think there's a warming between the two rivals, Oracle is ramping up its competition with Red Hat on the support side of the business. Screven claimed that Oracle has been providing patches for its Linux customers and partners since 2003 and that Unbreakable Linux was merely a formalization of a program that existed because neither Red Hat nor Novell provide the level of enterprise support.
"The existing Linux vendors I think have a little bit different point of view and I don’t think that they were doing a very good job. You know, they were charging a lot of money for support levels that, in our minds, were insufficient for many enterprise customers,” Screven said. “And the implication is that a lot of those customers were discouraged from using Linux for mission critical systems in their data centers. Now, we really want Linux to be the default choice for Oracle customers in their data centers. So we got into the business to fix it.”
Oracle's comments were posted on Tuesday, as Red Hat launched JBoss operations Network 2.0 as an enhanced enterprise middleware management platform.
Screven said Red Hat’s claims that Oracle cannot guarantee 100 percent binary compatibility of its patched version of RHEL with RHEL are not valid.
“Find a place where there is a functional difference between Red Hat Enterprise Linux binaries and Oracle Enterprise Linux binaries. The only practical difference that I know of is the difference in label string,” he said. “Obviously, we produce a lot of conventional software running on Linux, including the database, that we develop and we test on Oracle Enterprise Linux. We do not test on Red Hat Linux, yet we release our products to our customers certified and supported on Red Hat Linux. And we can do that because we know with certainty that they are the same."
"We’re very, very focused on making sure that what the binaries that we distribute either as, you know, individual package updates or as complete installs is completely compatible with Red Hat Linux," Screven said in the interview, which was posted on the Linux Foundation web site Tuesday. "And, you know, our goal is to make sure we do not cause any fragmentation in the Linux market space. "