RealTime IT News

'Unbreakable Linux' Unleashed

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. -- A trio of high tech CEOs joined forces Wednesday in a move to unseat IBM as the Linux vendor of choice.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell, and Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said they are fully committing themselves to Linux for the enterprise.

"Boy it feels awfully good to get here," said Szulik, sporting his trademark crimson fedora. "I guess you could call this an 'Unbreakable' partnership."

The partnership will be based on Dell PowerEdge Servers and Dell EMC and PowerVault storage systems, Release 2 of Oracle9i Database with Real Application Clusters and the Red Hat Linux Advanced Server operating system.

While the current plan is exclusively designed for Intel semiconductors, Oracle said the plan is to also support IA 64 and AMD in the near future.

Austin, Texas-based Dell also announced new certified configurations based on Release 2 of Oracle9i Database and Red Hat Linux Advanced Server and outlined efforts to integrate Oracle Enterprise Manager with Dell OpenManage systems management software.

Dell said its entire lineup of PowerEdge servers will also support Release 2 of Oracle9i Database and Oracle9i RAC on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server when it becomes available.

For the first time in Oracle's history, the company said it would also offer operating system frontline support for Red Hat Advanced Server, something relatively not available with other vendors. The two companies said they have been pooling resources on the technical enhancements.

"There are two ways you make Linux more reliable: one is you provide much better support, which we're doing, and the second is with a cluster to provide fault tolerance," said Ellison. "If we do our job well, there's no need to build a bigger, faster machine, which will be just too expensive and too unreliable comparatively. Rather than buying a big IBM server, you buy a rack of RAC."

RAC, or Real Application Clusters, is what Oracle has been toting as the "Unbreakable" part of its software. The idea is to divide a large task into subtasks and distribute the subtasks among multiple nodes. That way you can complete the task faster than if only one node did the work.

"That is why we have been seriously looking at Linux in the last six months," said Ellison. "Because Linux is perfect for clustering. People say is Linux ready for prime time? Is it reliable? Is it fast? With clusters, it is fast enough and with no single point of failure. Clusters are fault tolerant. A cluster of four Linux machines is more reliable and less expensive than an IBM mainframe. The problem with traditional database is that you are constantly in an endless upgrade cycle. The biggest benefit to our midrange user is the economics."

Oracle is even taking its own advice. By the end of this year the company expects it will have moved its 45,000 employees to a strictly Linux-based e-mail database system.

The partnership has already tallied its first major contract. The Federal Aviation Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Herndon, Virginia is currently installing a system to support 2,000 concurrent users on an Oracle9i RAC system using Dell servers on Red Hat Linux. The system, known as the National Log, will act as a central clearinghouse database for users in air traffic centers across the country.

Despite all the hoopla, IBM was still the first to ship a database for Linux back in 1999. The Armonk, NY-based juggernaut was also the first to ship a database offering to support Linux clusters.

The new "Unbreakable" partnership is looking to change all of that. Oracle still maintains a second-place finish to IBM's DB2 database offering, according to IDC and Gartner's latest revenue survey, but Ellison said either IBM's numbers are skewed, the report is false or the 400 plus customers he's talked to are lying about Oracle being the database software of choice.

Dell is certainly not shy about being a less-costly alternative to IBM and would certainly like to steal away as much market share from Big Blue's server lineup.

But among the three companies, Red Hat has the most to win since it does serious business with all of the players. The company happens to have a good relationship with IBM. Still, none of the companies is changing their alliances with this new product offering.

"Today's announcement validates the performance of Red Hat Linux Advanced Server and the technical strength of our team," said Szulik. "Together, we have created the tools and capabilities customers need to rapidly migrate applications to an enterprise-class Linux environment."

Oracle also made Release 2 of its Oracle9i Database, Application Server and Oracle9i Developer Suite for Linux available as a free downloaded from Oracle's Technology Network. A RedHat Package Manager (RPM) format of Oracle9i JDeveloper on Linux is expected to be available for developers using RedHat shortly.

When asked if the new and cheaper solution would be offered to the State of California as an alternative to its outstanding, yet controversial, $95 contract, Ellison said the state of course has the option. Oracle has said repeatedly that it is willing to renegotiate the deal.

As for Oracle's recent threat of a profit warning for its fourth-quarter, Ellison said Oracle was in its quiet period but would not issue a profit warning.

"If we had made less than 12 cents in operating income, we would have had to warn. We didn't warn," Ellison said at press conference at the company's headquarters.

Analysts tracking the No. 2 software maker had expected Oracle to post earnings of 12 cents a share.

Ellison called earlier reports by analysts speculative and "wildly irresponsible."