Red Hat, Oracle Strengthen Bond

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-09-15

Red Hat, Oracle Strengthen Bond

Red Hat Inc. and Oracle Corp. will tighten their relationship as the companies work together on the next version of Red Hats Enterprise Linux server.

Officials at the OracleWorld conference here last week said Oracle will continue to contribute development work and code in areas such as management, clustering and enterprise database to the open-source and Linux community in association with companies such as Red Hat and SuSE Linux A.G.

"It would be impossible for us to have a deeper commitment to Linux than we already do," said Dave Dargo, vice president of Oracles Linux Program office, in Redwood Shores, Calif.

Although there is as yet no official agreement between the companies about working together on Enterprise Linux 4, Red Hat officials confirmed that work has already begun on that product, which will be based on the Linux 2.6 kernel and which is scheduled for release in the spring of 2005—or as early as the end of next year—"if things go really well," said Brian Steves, vice president of operating system development at Red Hat, in Raleigh, N.C.

Red Hat is on track to release Enterprise Server 3.0 next month.

Check out eWEEK Labs review of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 Beta 1.

"We know that the 2.6 kernel will be a solid kernel," Steves said. "The areas that we feel arent really that well addressed in that kernel are manageability, storage management, virtualization and Java. These are the four areas that we will be pushing very hard on and concentrating on for Release 4."

With previous Enterprise Linux releases, Red Hat did all its own engineering, which was then validated by Oracle for its database software. But Oracle has grown its Linux development team to where the companies could begin to work together on Version 4.

"One of the areas that is a natural for us to partner on is cluster file systems," Steves said. Oracle had made a commitment in this regard, "but they are missing a lot of key ingredients to make it general purpose. Its Oracle-only right now, and RAC [Real Application Clusters] is going in a different direction with 10g for storage management where it doesnt really need the Oracle Cluster File System anymore," he said.

Next page: Why the partnership is good news for RAC users.

Page Two

The deepening of the partnership between Oracle and Red Hat is good news for customers looking to run Oracles RAC offerings.

"Historically, we have had Solaris, and we bought two new Sun [Microsystems Inc.] clusters a couple of years ago because at that stage it would have been brave to run RAC on Linux," said Jamie Shiers, database group leader for CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva. "That is no longer the case. Most likely, we will have two of the three [servers] as Linux-based racks in the first or second quarter of next year."

In another win for Linux and Red Hat, VeriSign Inc. last week said it would be migrating 2,000 of its high-performance Unix servers to Red Hats Enterprise Linux on Intel in a move that will help reduce its operating expenses.

Dave Pool, vice president of infrastructure engineering at VeriSign, of Mountain View, Calif., agreed that Linux is ready for mission-critical applications. The company is migrating several significant databases to Linux, including Siebel Systems Inc.s Siebel Sales Force Automation, Clarify sales support, and business intelligence and decision support applications from Informatica Corp. and Primus, Pool said.

Steves said Red Hat is partnering with the National Security Association to develop the next level of security and the ability to do "hardened-down Linux" solutions, which would be similar to Suns Trusted Solaris product.

As Red Hat develops Enterprise Server 4, its kernel maintainer will track the progress of the Linux 2.6 kernel. The kernel maintainer will then feed in the incremental changes as they happen, enabling the development of 4 and the kernel to take place in parallel.

One challenge facing Red Hat is how to continue to add new hardware support and minor performance upgrades between releases on a quarterly basis while maintaining compatibility with things "that are touching everything in the kernel," Steves said. "That matters to us, and were coming up with models that work with compatibility but dont tie our arms behind our backs," he said.

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