Red Hat customers targeted by Oracle

Oracle is looking at taking business away from Linux distributor Red Hat by offering support for its product, its CEO declared last month.

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By  Peter Branton Published  July 9, 2006

Oracle is looking at taking business away from Linux distributor Red Hat by offering support for its product, its CEO declared last month. Speaking at an exclusive briefing, Larry Ellison said the software giant was targeting Red Hat customers by providing them with better support than Red Hat was capable of doing. While he stopped short of detailing actual plans for Oracle to provide such support directly, Ellison said the firm was looking at doing so because of customer dissatisfaction with Red Hat. “The next open source target for us is an operating system because our customers tell us they are not happy with Red Hat support,” Ellison said. “We would say, we will support your Red Hat, don’t go to Red Hat for support, don’t buy your support from Red Hat, buy your support from Oracle: it’s better support, costs less, it’s enterprise-class support, So, I think that is the approach we will take,” Ellison stated. The Oracle boss had earlier this year said the company was looking at providing an operating system of its own, to give it a “complete stack” of software. At last month’s briefing, he explained however that the vendor was “not going to invent a new operating system” nor was it keen to develop its own flavour of Linux.“We don’t want to fragment Linux, we don’t want lots of versions of Linux, an Oracle version of Linux, an IBM version of Linux,” he said. With the non-proprietary nature of open source, Oracle also does not need to launch its own variant, Ellison noted: The great thing about open source, the most interesting thing to me is the intellectual property,” he said. “We can just take Red Hat’s intellectual property and make it ours, they just don’t have it. We can just take the Red Hat system and say okay, we’ll take it over now, and there is nothing they can do about it, other than offering better support than we can. How can Red Hat do a better job of supporting their product than we can, I just don’t know how they can do that, we’re a US$16 billion software company”. Any attack on the Red Hat customer base would be something of a change of strategy for Oracle, which has previously worked closely with the Linux vendor, actively promoting the Red Hat Linux variant to its own customer base. However, Red Hat’s US$350 million capture of open source middleware firm JBoss was interpreted by industry watchers as a move to allow it to compete better against large corporate software firms such as Oracle. While Oracle has been linked with a move to buy Red Hat rival Novell, which distributes SuSe Linux, Ellison said the vendor had decided against it. “The thing that makes most sense for us right now to us is simply saying Red Hat is a good product, the support is not very good, so get the support from Oracle,” he said. Andrew Sutherland, vice president of technology solutions for Oracle’s EMEA operations, said that offering support for Red Hat was a “viable” business for Oracle, as Red Hat does not have the intellectual property for its Linux. “You then have to look at who would be best to supply that business, who would be the best supplier of support and such like,” he said. Sutherland declined to comment on whether Oracle has already set up support teams to target Red Hat support customers. However, he emphasised that the vendor has already been offering support to Red Hat and Oracle customers. “We have been providing Linux support now for many years, so we’ve got the technical expertise,” he claimed.

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