Red Hat's Szulik responds to Oracle's frontal assault

Summary:Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik responded to Oracle's attack on its business, slashing supports costs for Red Hat Linux by half, by saying that his company will not cut prices. The remarks were made during an interview on CNBC, after the Red Hat stock tanked by nearly 25 percent after the Oracle announcement of a competitive service.

Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik responded to Oracle's attack on its business, slashing supports costs for Red Hat Linux by half, by saying that his company will not cut prices. The remarks were made during an interview on CNBC, after the Red Hat stock tanked by nearly 25 percent after the Oracle announcement of a competitive service. As reported by Reuters, Szulik said, "We've had a very productive seven-year relationship with Oracle. We want to make sure our products perform very well with Oracle."  Red Hat also put out a Q&A on its Web site to address Oracle's hijacking maneuver, maintaining that Oracle is forking the code, which may cause incompatibilities.

 


  Red Hat's Matthew Szulik and Oracle's Larry Ellison 

Stephen Shankland quotes a source who said that Cisco, with more than 5,000 RHEL subscriptions, is concerned that Oracle's Linux lacks the certifications earned by Red Hat and Novell's Suse.

"It's going to take years to develop the relationships with outside vendors currently certified for Red Hat and Suse," said the technician who requested anonymity. "For company like mine, we can't go out on a limb like that. It has to be a certified solution." 

Nonetheless, Red Hat will feel pricing pressure, especially among customers who are already tied  into more parts of Oracle's software stack and price-conscious buyers. Szulik said on Wednesday that the pricing comparison Ellison used is warped. "We don't have an enterprise customer that buys pays retail pricing. All our enterprise customers have volume discounts," Szulik said.

Now, the onus is on Oracle to respond to Red Hat's interpretation of Oracle's offering and prove that it can deliver better support than Red Hat at half the price. If Ellison and team show signs of delivering quality Linux services at more affordable prices and start poaching Red Hat support staff, Szulik will have to respond with deeper discounts. What is clear is that Ellison doesn't want to allow Red Hat to become the Microsoft of the Linux world, dominating core parts of the software stack. 

Below is part of the Red Hat Q&A:

Q: Does Oracle's announcement include support for the Red Hat Application Stack, JBoss, Hibernate, Red Hat GFS, Red Hat Cluster Suite, and Red Hat Directory Server?A: No. Oracle does not support any of these leading open source products.

Q: Oracle says their Linux support includes the same hardware compatibility and certifications as Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Is this true?

A: No. Oracle has stated they will make changes to the code independently of Red Hat. As a result these changes will not be tested during Red Hat's hardware testing and certification process, and may cause unexpected behavior. Hence Red Hat hardware certifications are invalidated.

Q: Oracle says their Linux support includes the same software compatibility and ISV certifications of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Is this true?

A: No. Oracle has stated they will make changes to the code independently of Red Hat. These changes will not be tested during Red Hat's software testing and certification process, and may cause unexpected behavior. Hence Red Hat software certifications are invalidated.

Q: Will Oracle's Linux support be binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux so that my applications continue to work?

A: There is no way to guarantee that changes made by Oracle will maintain API (Application Programming Interface) or ABI (Application Binary Interface) compatibility; there may be material differences in the code that will result in application failures. Compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux can only be verified by Red Hat's internal test suite.
Source Code Compatibility

Q: Will Oracle's product result in a "fork" of the operating system?

A: Yes. The changes Oracle has stated they will make will result in a different code base than Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Simply put, this derivative will not be Red Hat Enterprise Linux and customers will not have the assurance of compatibility with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux hardware and application ecosystem..
Updates

Q: Oracle says they will provide the same updates as Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Can they do this?

A: There are multiple requirements to building binary compatible software. One piece is the source code; another is the build and test environment. While Oracle may be able to take the source code at some point after a Red Hat update release, obviously their build and test environment will be inherently different than that of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. For similar reasons, there is no guarantee that the source code for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux update will work correctly when integrated into Oracle's modified Linux code base.
Support & Maintenance Lifecycle

Q: In order to get support and maintenance for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, do you need to upgrade to the most recent version?

A: No. Red Hat subscribers enjoy support and updates for all versions for up to 7 years. Throughout that time, Red Hat provides regular maintenance releases as part of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription. This is supplemented through our support services by a 'hot-fix' process that provides critical bug fixes on a customer-specific basis. Oracle "reserves the right to desupport certain Enterprise Linux program releases" as part of their Oracle Enterprise Linux support policies.
Support Level Flexibility

Q: Does Red Hat allow you to tailor your support level to your workload?

A: Yes. Many customers match their Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription level to their application SLA requirements. For example, customers may choose a Basic subscription for non-mission critical file and print servers, while selecting Premium subscriptions for database servers. Oracle does not allow this flexibility - their support policy reads: "If acquiring Enterprise Linux Premier Support, all of your Oracle supported systems must be supported with Enterprise Linux Premier Support."
Security

Q: Can Oracle produce timely security updates to Red Hat Enterprise Linux as they stated?

A: No. There will be a delay between the time a Red Hat Enterprise Linux update is issued and the time the source code makes its way to Oracle. There is no guarantee that the source code for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux update will work correctly when integrated into Oracle's Linux code base; this integration and test will take additional time. In the case where the update corrects critical security flaws, Oracle customers may be exposed to additional risk.
Linux Assurance

Q: Red Hat Enterprise Linux has government security certifications including Common Criteria Evaluated Assurance Level (EAL) 4+/Controlled Access Protection Profile (CAPP). Will Oracle's version of Linux inherit these certifications?

A: No. Common Criteria evaluations are conducted on a specific configuration of software and hardware. Any changes to the software such as those Oracle has announced will invalidate certification.
Customer Collaboration

Q: Will Oracle's Linux customers have the same degree of influence over Oracle's Linux as Red Hat's customers do with Red Hat Enterprise Linux?

A: The support we provide for Red Hat Enterprise Linux starts when Red Hat and its customers collaborate in the design of new versions. This collaboration extends through the development, testing, and production deployment of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Vendors of a derivative distribution are simply not positioned to provide their customers the same collaboration opportunity.
Support Partners

Q: Hardware vendors such as Dell, HP, and IBM provide support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. How is Oracle's support offering different?

A: Red Hat's hardware partners provide front line support to customers, backed by Red Hat. Red Hat has a close contractual relationship with these partners, which requires training, well defined escalation paths, Red Hat back-line support, and cooperative customer issue management. Our joint customers enjoy the same degree of collaborative participation as any Red Hat customer. 

 

Topics: Open Source

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