Oracle lends support to UnitedLinux

Oracle and UnitedLinux made a splash at the CeBIT Conference today announcing that Oracle will provide technical support for UnitedLinux.

Oracle Corp. has entered into an agreement to provide level 1, 2 and 3 technical support for enterprise customers using UnitedLinux's distribution of Linux. In addition to supporting its own products on the UnitedLinux distribution, it will also support the operating system.

The deal includes the creation of a support team that will service the entire Oracle product line running on a United Linux operating system. The service will be available for customers who have signed an Oracle support contract for Oracle software and are running an OS from one of the UnitedLinux vendors. Also, Oracle and UnitedLinux will work together to integrate patches in future maintenance releases of UnitedLinux.

"There will be no additional charges or obligations for customers," said Dave Dargo, vice president, Linux Program Office, Oracle Corp. "Enterprises will only need to be running Oracle certified products on an Oracle-certified UnitedLinux distribution."

UnitedLinux is a consortium of Linux vendors that includes SuSE Linux AG, Connectiva S.A., The SCO Group and Turbolinux, Inc. The four companies have combined their resources to develop an enterprise-class, industry-standard Linux operating system, UnitedLinux Version 1.0. Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat, a leading Linux distributor in North America and a UnitedLinux holdout, has a similar support arrangement in place with Oracle.

The announcement, made today at the CeBIT Conference in Germany, will go long way toward simplifying enterprise Linux adoption as a viable data center platform for mission-critical applications, said Ted Schadler, a principal analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.

"Rather than have Oracle support 39 different Linux distributors, it will just support UnitedLinux and all would be able to pick up support there," Schadler said. "Now, Oracle will be able to port Oracle 9i RAC [Real Application Clusters] to UnitedLInux and Red Hat and be done with it."

Schadler added that this kind of consolidation of support for Linux distributors is important to enterprise adoption of Linux.

"If an enterprise is going to run Linux in its data center, it's going to need consistency, and extreme regularity in code updates. It's going to need backward compatability and commercial support. None of this is possible if you have 39 different Linux distributors," Schadler said. "They are possible if you've got a player like Red Hat with its tremendous support and a united code base support regionally by companies like SuSE.

"This announcement will simplify Oracle's life and it will accelerate Linux adoption in the enterprise data center. We think this is going to be a big year for Linux."

Oracle developed the first commercial database for Linux in 1998, and two years later escalated its development efforts to elevate Linux as an enterprise-class platform. Nine months ago, Oracle unveiled its Unbreakable Linux program, which offers enterprises using Oracle on Linux support for the software and the operating systems of certified partners like UnitedLInux and Red Hat.

"If an enterprise buys an Oracle database, that tells me the company has some serious concerns about scalability and reliability that they need a product of that caliber," said Al Gillen, systems software research director with Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp. "They don't want their Linux solutions to be a weak link."

Gillen said Oracle's decision to further its relationship with UnitedLinux (the consortium completed certification of UnitedLinux Version 1.0 with Oracle 9i database and its clustering technology, Oracle 9i Real Application Clusters in February) could lead enterprises wary of smaller Linux vendors to consider a UnitedLinux system.

"Enterprises may be concerned that the smaller Linux vendors may not be viable for the long term," Gillen said.


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