New technical and marketing support from Oracle Corp. could further bolster the development of Linux applications and may result in lower-priced enterprise applications.
The Redwood Shores, Calif., database company last week announced it has allocated $150 million to its Unbreakable Linux program for this year; it also announced the Unbreakable Linux Partner Initiative, which will make compatible software solutions available through its partners under a "powered by Oracle Unbreakable Linux" brand.
The program will address a major area of concern among many current and potential customers: the lack of enterprise applications available for Linux.
One of the reasons the platform has fewer applications available than Unix, some partners say, is because Linux grew up from the low end. "But as people are driving toward Linux, due to its cost benefits, there is a huge motivation for groups like Oracle to step in and provide these capabilities itself or through third-party vendors," said Jeff Pancottine, a senior vice president at technology developer F5 Networks Inc., in Seattle.
Don Burleson, CEO of Burleson Oracle Consulting, in Raleigh, N.C., agreed, saying that because the database layer is independent of the application layer, platform independence is one of the compelling things about using the underlying Oracle Real Application Clusters technology.
"The more applications there are for Linux as a whole, the more likely enterprises are to look at it as a viable platform and then at the Oracle solution as part of that. That is where Oracle is going with this," Burleson said.
Oracle has already signed support and engineering agreements with Red Hat Inc. and the UnitedLinux consortium around Unbreakable Linux, Oracle officials said.
Oracle has more than 4,000 ISVs using its software on Linux, and it is determined to grow the number of solutions for its Unbreakable Linux software infrastructure. Part of the $150 million will fund engineering work to develop new third-party software products and to cover some costs associated with porting existing applications to that infrastructure, officials said.
The company said it hopes the move will drive enterprises running Linux to the Oracle database and away from those offered by such developers as IBM.
An IBM spokeswoman, in Somers, N.Y., isnt fazed by Oracles news. "[Oracle has] a little ways to go to catch up to the 44,000 developers that are creating Linux applications for our software," she said.
Computer Associates International Inc. officials last week applauded the Oracle initiative. Sam Greenblatt, senior vice president and chief architect of CAs Linux Technology Group, in Islandia, N.Y., told eWeek his group "fully intends to go after some of that funding for the development of our Unicenter, BrightStor and eTrust solutions on Unbreakable Linux."
Much of the code for these products had already been compiled for the Linux 2.2 and 2.4 kernels and is binary-compatible. Those that were not could be recompiled and rebuilt on the Oracle platform. "Its not a big deal once you are on Linux to go to Unbreakable Linux, which is essentially just high-availability clustering," said Greenblatt.
Linux user John Alberg (pictured), vice president of engineering at Employease Inc., an Atlanta developer of human resources software, also welcomed Oracles move but said Linux has a way to go in the data center before it gets his business.
"The more effectively the vendors can get their platform to run seamlessly on open source and with open software, the more excited we get about their products, which is clearly what Oracle is trying to do," Alberg said.
"We still run into issues with these back-end systems, specifically the need to have 64-bit addressing. A lot of the Linux distributions havent gone through and made sure that each of their applications are 64-bit addressing, even on 32-bit hardware," said Alberg. "The hardware selection isnt also as good as it is for other platforms. There arent a lot of tried-and-tested Intel machines with a lot of CPUs out there."