Our View: Oracle Linux Makes Sense

Opinion: A move by Oracle to become a bigger Linux player would benefit enterprise IT customers.

The rumor that Oracle is planning to launch its own Linux distribution has surfaced again, this time in the form of analyst speculation that appeared to prompt a dip in Red Hats share price.

Considering that Oracles OpenWorld show was Oct. 22-26, a move by Larry Ellison and Co. to confirm this tough-to-sink rumor already may have materialized. If not, we doubt that this recent speculation is the last well hear on the topic.

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Ellison has spoken in the past of Oracle potentially vying with Red Hat in the Linux platform support and services market, and an initiative to begin offering a Linux distribution under an Oracle label seems a likely counterpoint to the integrated stack-building efforts under way from Red Hat or from IBM and Novells SUSE unit.

A move by Oracle to become a bigger Linux player would be beneficial for enterprise IT consumers, as it would make available another major vendor from which to acquire Linux software and services.

Regardless of the direction Oracle is taking or might yet take in pursuit of a grander Linux profile, we contend that the rumored route of Debian or Ubuntu as a base for Oracles efforts makes great sense, both for Oracle and for enterprises, which would benefit from a more lively and competitive Linux marketplace.

If Oracle were to branch out from Red Hats RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) or Novells SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server), it would find itself trying to convince customers that it can deliver services for platforms better than the companies that developed the code in the first place.

With Debian or Ubuntu, Oracle wouldnt face that issue. Oracle would be raising its flag above an excellent Linux distribution with built-in differentiation compared with RHEL and SLES. Further, both Debian-Ubuntus excellent infrastructure for software management and its large community of users have contributed greatly to Ubuntus fast-won popularity.

In addition to simply creating more choices in the Linux arena, an Oracle Linux distribution could be a kind of bully pulpit on which Larry Ellison could wield some of the influence on IT architectures he has long coveted.

Oracle already has its hand in this game, with a clustering file system that competes with Red Hats. But an Oracle Linux also could be optimized to handle requests from thin clients—and it could be pitched to providers of SAAS (software as a service) applications. There are plenty of possibilities. Its up to Oracle to seize the day.

Tell us what you think at eweek@ziffdavis.com.

eWeeks Editorial Board consists of Jason Brooks, Larry Dignan, Stan Gibson, Scot Petersen and Lisa Vaas.

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