Oracle has announced that HP and Dell are to certify and resell the Oracle Solaris operating system, as well as Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM, on x86-based servers.
Under the terms of the deal, Dell and HP will also sell Oracle's Premier Support for Oracle Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM, which will give customers access to continuing product updates from Oracle, the companies said in an announcement on Thursday.
The deal sheds some light on Oracle's plans for Solaris, a version of Unix acquired along with Sun Microsystems in a deal finalised in January. However, Oracle has remained silent about the fate of the open-source version of Solaris, OpenSolaris.
Oracle Enterprise Linux, introduced in 2006, is based on and competes with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), while Oracle VM is Oracle's flagship server virtualisation offering, and is based on the open-source Xen hypervisor.
Other companies offering Solaris on x86 hardware include IBM and Fujitsu Siemens. IBM previously also carried Solaris on 64-bit hardware platforms, but earlier in July announced it would stop selling Solaris 10 subscriptions on x64 systems beginning on 27 August.
Solaris has a history of being tightly integrated with Sun's own Sparc hardware, but Oracle said the new deal indicates the operating system's growing popularity on commodity x86 systems.
"Oracle Solaris... is in demand across multiple x86 platforms," said Oracle president Charles Phillips in a statement. "Additionally, more and more customers are building virtual environments using Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM on x86 platforms. Today's announcement demonstrates Oracle's commitment to openness and will provide Dell and HP customers with new levels of support and immediate access to deep product expertise, limiting risk in their IT environment."
While the agreements with Dell and HP are an indication that Oracle is moving ahead with its plans for Solaris, the ongoing lack of clarity around OpenSolaris has led the OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB) to threaten to disband before the end of August.
On 12 July, the board issued an ultimatum: if Oracle does not appoint a liaison to the OGB by 16 August, the board will use its 23 August meeting to collectively resign. Under the current OpenSolaris constitution, such an action would result in control of OpenSolaris being returned to Oracle.
Former Sun executive and OGB member Simon Phipps told ZDNet UK on Friday that Oracle had not yet responded to the board's ultimatum. "I can confirm that the OGB has received no response of any kind from Oracle so far," he said.
On the OpenSolaris user forum website, user Richard Hamilton commented that clarity on Oracle Solaris was welcome, but that "more communication and candor" was needed on the open-source distribution.
"Sun built up considerable credibility with open-source folks: by participating in X11 and Gnome, by long being open about standards and protocols they developed, by open-sourcing OpenOffice, OpenSolaris and Java," Hamilton wrote. "Oracle has rather quickly degraded much of that credibility."
In February, Oracle director of product management Dan Roberts participated in the OpenSolaris Annual Meeting and assured members that the company would continue to support OpenSolaris.
"Oracle will continue to make OpenSolaris available as open source, and Oracle will continue to actively support and participate in the community," Roberts said, according to an IRC transcription of the meeting. Roberts said at the time that Oracle would "continue to deliver OpenSolaris releases, including the upcoming OpenSolaris 2010.03 release".
That release, originally scheduled for February, and then pushed back to March, has yet to arrive. The current OpenSolaris release is 2009.06, launched in June 2009.
Oracle declined to comment for this article.