Oracle may make Linux stack move

19 Oct 2006 View Comments
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Oracle could finally announce long-mooted plans for a software stack by adding a branded version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution to its database, application server and tools at the Oracle OpenWorld conference that opens on 22 October in San Francisco.

The will-they-won’t-they question could be resolved after a recent research note issued by financial analyst Jeffries & Co. suggested that “Ubuntu is currently working to certify its recently introduced server operating system to all of Oracle's major products, including database and middleware”. It added that Oracle could produce a server appliance running the stack and/or a pure software offering, and that OpenWorld was a likely candidate for an announcement.

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If the analyst is correct, the tie-up would fulfil suggestions by Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison dating back to April that Oracle could use a Linux distribution to complete its stack of core software offerings.

Ubuntu is a free Linux distribution noted for its ease of deployment and usability and marketed as “Linux for human beings”. It is also favoured by Sun Microsystems, the company that remains perhaps Oracle’s closest server partner. Sun runs Ubuntu on Sparc-based servers.

Speculation about an Oracle-Ubuntu tie-up has helped knock Red Hat shares down over the last fortnight but the Linux distribution leader said its focus on open-source would differentiate it, whatever strategy Oracle adopts.

“We see the same speculation as to whether something is going to happen but customers have pressure to do more with what they already have and to drive differentiation,” said Timothy Yeaton, Red Hat marketing senior vice-president.

“The discussions we have with customers are about delivering a dynamic, next-generation platform with a flexible development model. We have a complete end-to-end story that is 100 percent open-source and that is the key point [of differentiation from Oracle]. We’re able to change the economics of IT in a pretty fundamental way.”

Yeaton added that Red Hat and Oracle maintain cordial “executive-level” relations and said that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, due early next year, will deliver “outstanding performance, particularly in an Oracle context”.

Also at OpenWorld, Oracle president Charles Phillips is scheduled to provide an update on Oracle’s product release schedule.

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