At the recent OpenStack Summit, Oracle announced that its captive distributions of Linux and the Xen hypervisor would now support Oracle's distribution of OpenStack.
Although the announcement appeared rather simple, it took me a while to digest it. It appears that Oracle is telling its customers that those who are using its Linux distribution combined with its Xen distribution will be allowed to execute its version of the OpenStack cloud services software. How nice of them.
What Oracle had to say
Here's how Oracle described what it was doing:
Oracle today introduced a technology preview of an OpenStack® distribution that allows Oracle Linux and Oracle VM users to work with the open source cloud software. This provides customers with additional choices and interoperability while taking advantage of the efficiency, performance, scalability, and security of Oracle Linux and Oracle VM. The distribution is delivered as part of the Oracle Linux and Oracle VM Premier Support offerings, at no additional cost. Oracle plans to work with the OpenStack community to develop and enhance its enterprise-class capabilities to meet customer demands.
- Oracle today announced support for customers to use OpenStack cloud software with Oracle Linux and Oracle VM.
- Users can install this OpenStack technology preview in their test environments with the latest version of Oracle Linux and the beta release of Oracle VM 3.3.
- Customers can use Oracle Linux as the base operating system for OpenStack deployments where they can take advantage of the advanced patching capabilities of Oracle Ksplice.
- OpenStack services such as compute, network, and storage management, can be downloaded from the Oracle Public Yum Server and Unbreakable Linux Network (ULN).
- Oracle Linux and Oracle VM customers who deploy the product release of this OpenStack distribution can also benefit from Oracle’s enterprise-class support experience.
Have we seen this dance before? It seems to me that Oracle took an interesting position on open source when it launched its own distribution of Linux and the Xen hypervisor.
In both cases the company insisted that it wouldn't support customers using its database or application software if that software was executing on any other distribution of Linux or Xen. In other words, run a complete Oracle stack of software or we won't help you when you have problems — unless, of course, you purchase at least one license for Oracle's blessed version of Linux and Xen and prove that the problem wasn't caused by Oracle's partners Red Hat, SUSE, or Ubuntu.
This time, Oracle is allowing its customers to use OpenStack cloud foundation technology. I thought it was pretty much a given that Linux and Xen could be used in an OpenStack environment. After all, OpenStack has been executing in environments based upon Red Hat, SuSE, or Ubuntu distributions of Linux. OpenStack has also been working with Xen, KVM, and vSphere virtual machine software as well. This could certainly call into question what Oracle has done to Linux and Xen that would make them not work with other open source software.
It seems to me that we seeing another attempt by Oracle to ride two horses at the same time — proprietary distribution of software and open source software — without falling in the river and getting soaked.
The open source philosophy and business model are built upon a foundation of providing multi-vendor, multi-platform offerings. Oracle's approach is quite different. It's based upon components, proprietary and open source projects, that have been integrated by Oracle, tested by Oracle, documented by Oracle and supported by Oracle. Environments implemented using a combination of different distributions of open source components combined with Oracle's database software, application software or middleware software are not supported.
If open source software is bound by terms and conditions that reflect those of proprietary software, is it still open? How will this clash of business and development models play out? How will Oracle's customers respond to this announcement? How about Red Hat's? HP's, IBM's? Dell's? I guess we'll have to watch and see.