Watchers Weigh In

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2006-08-22 Print this article Print

Before I found that out, though, I got some Red Hat watchers on the phone. 1. Oracle: Supporting Red Hat? Yes? No?
Stephen OGrady of Redmonk:
"The sort of talk around … Oracle taking Red Hat bits and releasing its own version of that showed a lack of understanding of how [Red Hats business model and open-source rules of contributing back to the kernel] works. "That would be a boon for Red Hat. … It would mean Oracle would be playing catch-up with patching and customization around the kernel that Red Hat puts into its product. "Oracle would be required to first support all the patches Red Hat puts out. If [Oracle] makes its own custom fixes and patches, it would have to contribute back to the kernel, so Red Hat could take those and resell them. "If they took Red Hats bits, theyd probably have to guarantee binary compatibility with [one of Red Hats distributions]. Theyd have to ensure that ISVs writing to Red Hat and supporting applications on top of Red Hat would have to work with whatever downstream [add-ons] Oracle would [contribute]." So why would Ellison talk about it if it didnt make sense? Gosh, I dont know! How about FUD? Its a good, all-purpose product to put out. Oracle is now competing more directly with Red Hat, post-its JBoss acquisition, so chest-puffing is in order. 2. Oracle buying Red Hat: Yes? No? Raven Zachary, of The 451 Group: "It may be worth $5 billion to $6 billion to acquire Red Hat and get the JBoss business, which didnt pan out for them [when Oracle supposedly looked at buying the company earlier in the year], but thats a fairly hefty cost for whats essentially a free operating system. "They could [instead] spend $1 billion to launch an enterprise Linux distribution, $2 billion to market why Red Hat isnt relevant [from Oracles perspective], and then they could pocket the other $3B as savings vs. acquiring Red Hat for $6 billion." OGrady: "Could you build a case that a Red Hat acquisition would make sense for Oracles business? You could. You have to factor in that theyd also complicate their business at the same time. "Oracles pattern for growth has been, at least in recent years, about growing on top of an infrastructure: building out the application infrastructure, rather than building back down the stack, into the operating system . "Thats proved a successful growth strategy for them. Would they grow downward, into the operating system layer? Perhaps, but Im not sure what the benefits are." Takeaway: Wow, Red Hat is expensive. 3. Oracle rolling its own Linux. Yes? No? Zachary: "Well, wouldnt it be much less expensive for Oracle to create its own community distribution? [They could spend] 50 percent [of what it would cost to buy Red Hat] and go buy Novell and use SUSE as the Oracle-Linux distribution. "Probably even cheaper to throw a billion at the problem and go find a third-tier Linux distribution and hire the team and deploy an Oracle enterprise Linux." Takeaway: Lets wait and see if Oracle buys a Linux distribution. If it were currently in the process of rolling its own, I think the rumor mill would be buzzing a lot louder about this. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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