Oracle Corp. on Oct. 25 announced that it would provide the same enterprise class support for Linux as it provides for its database, middleware, and applications products. Essentially, this means that Oracle, after removing Red Hat trademarks, will be distributing Oracle Unbreakable Linux, derived from Red Hat’s open-source Linux technology.
Oracle, however, claims that it is merely “supporting” Unbreakable Linux, which is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Other, far smaller companies, such as CentOS and White Box Enterprise Linux, have taken Red Hat’s code, removed the Red Hat trademarks, and spun their own Linux distributions from it. No major business, until now, though, has made such a move.
The database giant claims that Red Hat only provides bug fixes for the latest version of its software. Thus, Oracle executives say, this often requires customers to upgrade to a new version of Linux software to get a bug fixed. Oracle’s new Unbreakable Linux program, on the other hand, will provide bug fixes to future, current, and back releases of Linux. In other words, Oracle will provide the same level of enterprise support for Linux as is available for other operating systems.
Additionally, Oracle is offering its Unbreakable Linux program for substantially less than Red Hat currently charges for its best support.
“We believe that better support and lower support prices will speed the adoption of Linux, and we are working closely with our partners to make that happen,” Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said. “Intel is a development partner. Dell and HP are resellers and support partners. Many others are signed up to help us move Linux up to mission critical status in the data center.”
In a statement, Oracle President Charles Phillips said, “Oracle’s Unbreakable Linux program is available to all Linux users for as low as $99 per system per year. You do not have to be a user of Oracle software to qualify. This is all about broadening the success of Linux. To get Oracle support for Red Hat Linux all you have to do is point your Red Hat server to the Oracle network. The switch takes less than a minute.”
Oracle Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven added, “We think it’s important not to fragment the market. We will maintain compatibility with Red Hat Linux. Every time Red Hat distributes a new version we will resynchronize with their code. All we add are bug fixes, which are immediately available to Red Hat and the rest of the community. We have years of Linux engineering experience. Several Oracle employees are Linux mainline maintainers.”
Many major Oracle partners gave this move their support.
Dell chairman Michael Dell said, “Dell will use Oracle to support Linux operating systems internally,” In addition, “Today we’re announcing that Dell customers can choose Oracle’s Unbreakable Linux program to support Linux environments running on Dell PowerEdge servers.”
Intel CEO Paul Otellini added, “Having worked with Oracle for many years in the enterprise computing space, we believe that the Oracle Unbreakable Linux program will bring tremendous value to our mutual Linux customers.”
Even IBM joined in. “Oracle’s support for Red Hat Linux will encourage broader adoption of Linux in the enterprise,” said Bill Zeitler, Senior VP of IBM Systems and Technology Group. “IBM shares Oracle’s goal of making Linux a reliable, highly standard, cost effective platform for mission critical applications backed by world class support.”
Behind this new “Unbreakable Linux” support initiative, Oracle states that it will bring over 7,000 support staff in 17 global support centers, providing help to our customers in 27 languages, in any time zone.
Oracle is claiming that it’s not just a far better support deal. The company also says it will beat Red Hat on price. “With the scale of our support organization we can provide much better Linux support at a much lower price,” said Juergen Rottler, Oracle’s executive VP of Customer Services. “We have the expertise and infrastructure to improve substantially the quality of support for enterprise Linux customers.”
Enterprise Linux binaries will be available for free from Oracle. There was no discussion, however, of supplying source code, which is required by the GPL.
That may be because Oracle is not claiming to “distribute” Linux, but instead to be merely “supporting” it. In Oracle’s terms, Unbreakable Linux is a support program that provides enterprises with world-class, award winning, global support for Linux — not a distribution per se.
Specifically, Oracle will be offering patches, fixes, updates, and back ports for (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 3 and RHEL 4 for the x86 and x86-64 architectures, delivered via a subscriber network, the ULN (Unbreakable Linux Network). This will replace the functionality of Red Hat’s RHN (Red Hat Network).
That said, Oracle will also continue to support customers that are using Oracle products on Red Hat RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), Novell SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server), and Asianux. There was no discussion of supporting Ubuntu or other Linux systems that aren’t currently being supported.
Network Support will be offered for $99 per system per year. Enterprise Linux Basic support, which offers Network access plus 24×7 global coverage, will be offered for $399 for a two-CPU system per year, and $999 for a system with unlimited CPUs. Enterprise Linux Premier Support, which offers Basic support plus back porting of fixes to earlier releases as well as Oracle Lifetime Support, will be offered for $1,199 for a two-CPU system per year and $1,999 for a system with unlimited CPU’s.
The company is also offering a 50 percent discount for Enterprise Linux Basic and Premier Support until Jan. 31, 2007. During that time customers may purchase Basic Support for $299 (two physical CPUs) and $499 (unlimited physical CPUs) per system annually, and Premier Support for $399 (two physical CPUs) and $999 (unlimited physical CPUs).