The most pressure is on Red Hat
Oracle’s deep involvement with GNU/Linux is usually met with skepticism. On the one hand, Larry Ellison helps Linux gain credibility and his software company deploys Linux in a large number of top-tier companies. It’s also a tool for him to fight one of his main opponents (Microsoft) without depending on that opponent’s software (Windows).
The recent developments at Oracle are beyond the scope of this site, but Matt Aslett has a bit of analysis which is worth quoting.
The only problem for Oracle is that a win for Linux introduces a new third party that stands between its software and its customers. The clear solution to that is for Oracle to acquire a Linux distribution. Maybe one day it will, although I think the company is very aware that an Oracle-owned code base would diminish the value that customers see in Linux. An Oracle-supported code base is slightly different conceptually, while the result – Oracle owning the customer relationship – is the same .
You could question why Oracle is paying so much attention to Linux given that its revenue from Unbreakable is tiny in comparison to the other areas of its business but that, in my view, misses the point. It isn’t really important for Oracle to make money from Unbreakable Linux (or Oracle VM), what is important is that it strengthens Oracle’s relationship with its customers and keeps competitors out.
”Oracle and Novell are in danger of losing business to Microsoft, but in their fight against Microsoft they simply try to gain exclusive control over Linux.“There is another good analysis (criticism) from Matt Asay, but again, it’s not really the point worth making. What is curious about Oracle’s relationship with Linux is that it can sometimes be characterized as hoarding. Larry Ellison just wants more control. It would be wise to keep an eye on Oracle while it makes its Linux products Oracle-only (yes, it’s true). There are shades of Novell here, but Novell contributes more to Linux than Oracle does (it can be summed up as just a few packages and kernel patches).
In essence, one could argue that Oracle is the Novell of the database world (as opposed to networking). Oracle and Novell are in danger of losing business to Microsoft, but in their fight against Microsoft they simply try to gain exclusive control over Linux.
The one company that has the most to lose is probably Red Hat, although it is growing quickly and gives Microsoft plenty to worry about. While Sun Microsystems and Red Hat make peace (on Java), Microsoft strives to pressure Red Hat using patent deals. It’s a case of a peacemaker and an aggressor.
Red Hat is likely to face more pressure in years to come. Pressure will come from:
- Sun Microsystem, which has just gotten Dell preinstalling Solaris
- Larry Ellison’s ego, greed, and paranoia
- The anti-Red Hat Novell/Microsoft alliance
- Ubuntu, which has just scored a win (preinstalls on Dell servers)
- CentOS and other lesser known clones such as Startcom