So Oracle – Are you Supporting Linux or Unix?

oracleFrom the ‘Unix vs. Linux’ files:

Oracle is in an interesting position. It is now a supporter of both Linux and Unix with their own Oracle Enterprise Linux and Solaris Unix operating systems. This past week, Oracle released Solaris 11 their first official Unix release and it made me wonder if the new Solaris is changing Oracle’s position on Linux.

I asked Markus Flierl, vice president of software development at Oracle that question and the answer I got, was not what I had expected.

Flierl told me that Oracle’s positioning on when to use Linux or Solaris is not set in stone. It’s not something that is strictly defined by workload either.

“There is the skillset of the customer and the history of the customer. It’s very hard to say here is a project where only this or that will work, there is definitely a lot of overlap,” Flierl told me. “Quite frankly we’re tyring to stay away from a positioning as any positioning we come up with will just lead to confusion.”

Flierl added that the Linux vs Unix positioning is somewhat like Oracle’s challenge in positioning x86 vs SPARC on the chip side. Officially speaking, Oracle has said that they will support both equally (though CEO Larry Ellison did make some remarks last month that he didn’t care much for x86 in general).

For both the x86/SPARC question as well as Linux/Solaris question, Flierl sees momentum and history as being the driving factors.

  “In most places it falls into place automatically because of the skillset and investment that a company already has in place,” he said.

So, what does that mean? Does it mean that Oracle favors one OS over the other?

No, it does not, which is a good thing. Other vendors have positioned Unix vs Linux differently. I’ve spoken with HP at multiple points over the last 10 years on how they view Linux vs Unix, since they have HP-UX and also support Linux. On at least one occasion (officially at least), HP told me that Unix is more mature than Linux. Oracle didn’t say anything like that.

Solaris vs Linux is a matter of choice, not necessarily a positioning of one versus the other as being more mission-critical or more feature-rich than the other. That’s a good thing for Oracle.

For years, many Linux vendors made a lot of money by migrating people from Solaris to Linux and no doubt they’ll continue to do that. The fact that Oracle isn’t outright saying that they’re looking to migrate their Linux users to Solaris, likely means that the flow to Linux will continue to be one-way.

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