Oracle Moves Deeper into Linux

The company announced Wed. that it is bolstering the use of its 9i database Real Application Clusters feature for use on Red Hat's Linux Advanced Server and Dell PowerEdge servers.

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. - Oracle Corp. formally launched its latest Linux effort Wednesday, along with partners Red Hat Inc. and Dell Computer Corp.

As earlier reported, Oracle is bolstering the use of its 9i database Real Application Clusters (RAC) feature for use on Red Hats Linux Advanced Server and Dell PowerEdge servers. Developers from Oracle and Red Hat, of Raleigh, N.C., have spent the past year working on incorporating changes in Advanced Server, Red Hats enterprise distribution of Linux that was announced in March, officials said.

Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison, while spending much of his presentation here attacking IBM, said that running clustered Linux through RAC provides customers a lower cost option for enterprise database deployments.

"We think the Linux operating system is extremely attractive in terms of cost, in terms of an open-source Unix standard," Ellison said. "A lot of people are very familiar with it."

Ellison focused solely on clustered Linux running on Intel-based hardware as being cheaper than running IBM mainframes. But users also have noted that a more robust Linux offering for the database also would offer an alternative to running Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris operating system and hardware, which has accounted for a large amount of Oracles high-end business.

But Ellison downplayed any suggestion that Oracle, a strong Sun partner, is moving away from the vendor.

"We love Sun," Ellison said. "We think Sun is destined to be the lowest cost provider of high-end servers."

What had been missing for running Linux on enterprise-class databases were assurances that Linux could offer the performance and high availability requirements for an enterprise database. With the RAC abilities, Linux becomes fast enough and has the needed fault tolerance, Ellison said.

"A clusters of four Linux machines is more reliable than an IBM mainframe," Ellison said. "Its not that individual clusters wont fail but the cluster of all four machines wont fail."

Along with Red Hat and Oracle co-development, Oracle also announced that it is offering customer support for Red Hat Linux and that 550 ISVs have certified their solutions for Oracle 9i on Linux.

For its part, Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, is certifying its line of PowerEdge servers for Red Hat Linux Advanced Server and for the 9i Release 2, which first became available last month. It also is planning in the next few months to offer certified configuration for RAC.

Oracle is not alone among database vendors in supporting Linux. Top competitor IBM offers its DB2 Universal Database on Linux, including for Red Hats distribution. But Red Hat isnt undergoing the same sort of collaboration in development or on support with IBM as it has with Oracle, said Red Hat Chairman CEO Matthew Szulik.

"Our focus has been with Oracle in this space," he said. "Weve worked with IBM and we work with some of the others, but clearly at the level of technical detail weve been involved with Oracle it has been more significant than other database vendors."

Oracle, too, is focusing its Linux effort on Red Hat as opposed to competing vendors or the UnitedLinux effort launched last week. Ellison said Oracle chose to work closely with Red Hat, and recommended it to customers, because its the leading distribution of Linux.

"We cant support 25 different flavors of Linux," Ellison said "Our software will run on those (other Linux) versions but if you want enterprise-level support…then our choice was really to focus on Red Hat."

Oracles Linux push comes as the database vendor faces a decline in new database sales as competitors IBM and Microsoft have made gains in new sales. For 2001, Gartner Dataquest found that IBM overtook Oracle in overall database sales across platforms.

Ellison disputed the notion that the company is losing market share by noting surveys of Fortune 100 customers showing Oracle as the top database choice.

His competitors, though, took their own aim at Oracles Linux move, with a Microsoft spokeswoman calling it "Oracles strategy of the day."

"Im not sure which company should be more flattered: Oracle, for Red Hats assumption that they are still relevant, or, Red Hat, for the hope Oracle is putting into their hype," the spokeswoman sniped.

Additional repotting by Peter Galli.