Oracle Corporation is one of those companies that simultaneously has a huge presence in the IT world yet remains stealthy. It does this by somehow always managing to insert itself into customers’ lives, (usually) without big fanfare or hoopla.
Unbreakable Linux has seemed rather unexciting on the enterprise scene. A new offering from Oracle may change that.
Not always, however. In late 2006, when Oracle announced its Unbreakable Linux support program, much attention was paid. Here was Oracle, seemingly the master of the database world, taking the platform issue literally into its own hands by essentially selecting Red Hat Enterprise Linux, gussifying it a bit to make it more Oracle friendly, and releasing it to customers with what it touted as a superior support program.
After quite a few analysts and pundits got a sharp lesson in how this was not illegal (because there’s nothing in open source software licensing that disallows it), the next question everyone had was, how would Red Hat, then an Oracle partner, survive what was sure to be a killing blow?
Turns out, surviving Oracle wasn’t such a hard thing to do.
First off, it wasn’t in Oracle’s plans to kill off Red Hat, despite Larry Ellison’s boisterous claims. All he really wanted to do was take full advantage of open source and build his own platform for Oracle’s products, essentially cutting out the Red Hat middleman. If Oracle had really wanted to kill off Red Hat, it would have bought the company lock, stock and publicly traded barrel.
Oracle is claiming a rather successful year or so for the Unbreakable Linux program. It will not release sales numbers, but according to Monica Kumar, senior director of product marketing at Oracle, Unbreakable Linux has racked up about 2,000 customers thus far. This figure is in line with what other folks in the channel are telling me: Oracle is certainly a presence, but it hasn’t generated a firestorm of new Unbreakable Linux customers, either.
Which might explain today’s move to generate a little more heat. At the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, Oracle announced plans to make its ClusterWare product available to all of its basic and premium Unbreakable Linux customers. The price tag?
Zero. Nada. Zip.
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ClusterWare, for the unfamiliar, is a key component in the Oracle Real Application Cluster (RAC) product. Until today’s release, ClusterWare has never before been offered as a separate stand-alone product, Kumar told me. Now, it’s going to be given away to any Unbreakable Linux customer that wants it.
More tellingly, the clustering software can be used for Oracle and non-Oracle products. So if you have a SAP implementation running around in your company and you’re using Unbreakable, you can configure ClusterWare to help bring high availability to SAP.
Kumar explained that the decision to release ClusterWare in this way was pretty simple. For Oracle’s execs, ClusterWare was a powerful general-purpose tool, so why limit it to just RAC customers? As for the free price tag, Kumar forthrightly shared that releasing ClusterWare gratis would be a good selling point to attract more customers to the Unbreakable Linux program.
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how much more Unbreakable business Oracle generates for itself with a free ClusterWare offering. No doubt Oracle is ready to find out.
Brian Proffitt is managing editor of JupiterWeb’s Linux/Open Source channel, which includes Linux Today, LinuxPlanet, and AllLinuxDevices.