Oracle's Support of OpenStack on Both Linux and Solaris Is Smart Move

NEWS ANALYSIS: Oracle now is supporting OpenStack on both Linux and Solaris. Which one is better for Oracle?

In a move that seems somewhat obvious, Oracle May 13 announced OpenStack support for Oracle Linux and Oracle VM. Oracle had previously announced OpenStack support for its Solaris 11.2 Unix operating system that is currently in beta.

The support is coming as a technology preview of an OpenStack distribution that works with Oracle Linux and Oracle VM.

"Oracle is working closely with the OpenStack community across many areas," said Wim Coekaerts, senior vice president of Linux and Virtualization Engineering at Oracle, in a statement. "Oracle will continue to help deliver OpenStack capabilities to enable our customers to more efficiently deploy, manage and support their large Oracle data center deployments."

Oracle Linux is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which can work with OpenStack as well, and Linux in general has been closely aligned with OpenStack since day one. Oracle's embrace and support of OpenStack on Solaris was in that regard somewhat more innovative, though the impact of Oracle support for Linux is likely to be very meaningful.

Oracle Linux is the operating system that powers most of Oracle's engineered systems portfolio, which includes the Exalogic and Exadata systems. The engineered systems portfolio is leading revenue growth for Oracle. During Oracle's third-quarter fiscal 2014 earnings call in March, CEO Larry Ellison said that some 10,000 engineered systems had been delivered to customers.

With support for OpenStack, could those engineered systems now become powerful cloud boxes? I think that's one possibility.

The other possibility is that Oracle will build an engineered system specific for the cloud, quite literally a cloud in a box. Given Oracle's current naming system for engineered systems, I suspect if such a box is created, it could be called the ExaCloud box.

Going a step further, one of the primary workloads for Oracle Linux is the Oracle database, which also has its own engineered system called Exadata. In the recent OpenStack Icehouse release, one of the new projects added is the Trove database-as-a-service technology. I don't think it is unfathomable to consider that Oracle could work on extending Trove to enable some form of Oracle database deployments as well.

Oracle has done a respectable job of continuing to support both Solaris and Linux and is always aiming to grow both sets of users. It would not have made sense for Oracle to only have OpenStack support uniquely in Solaris or Linux.

In contrast, I have not seen either IBM or HP make a similar move, publicly supporting OpenStack on AIX or on the HP-UX Unix operating systems. In that regard, Oracle could well be the only vendor that supports OpenStack on Linux and Unix, giving it a unique position.

There are many reasons why an organization would choose to run Solaris or Linux for a given workload. Oracle is giving its users that choice and, in so doing, it is expanding the market for OpenStack.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.