SAP, Oracle Holding Out on Ubuntu?

Linux

Linux vendor Canonical is working hard to get more software and hardware certifications for its Ubuntu Linux distribution. In its latest round of partnerships, Canonical is expanding its relationship with IBM (NYSE: IBM), Alfresco, Zimbra, Likewise, Centrify and others.

Yet though Canonical is trying valiantly to show momentum in its alliances, at least two notable companies are missing from its partner lineup for Ubuntu. Neither Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) nor SAP (NYSE: SAP) currently support Ubuntu, and both lack immediate plans to do so.

Linux competitors Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) and Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) are both certified by Oracle and SAP, which could potentially leave Ubuntu on the outside looking in for large Linux deployments.

“Those [Oracle and SAP] are the two big software opportunities that we can work on,” Malcolm Yates, ISV alliance manager at Canonical, told InternetNews.com. “Both of them have reasons as to why they wouldn’t necessarily want to move to Ubuntu. The old story from ISVs is ‘Why would we move to another OS vendor when it might cannibalize what we have already — we would have to retrain all of our people.”

Oracle’s support for Linux in 1998 has been cited by experts as one of the key reasons why Linux has become successful in the marketplace. Ubuntu has been gaining fans and adoption over the past four years, often topping the popularity scales at Linux distribution tracking site DistroWatch and elsewhere. Despite that apparent community popularity, Oracle isn’t too interested in Ubuntu.

“Oracle has no current plans to support Ubuntu Linux,” an Oracle spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to InternetNews.com. “Oracle’s supported distributions are Novell’s SLES, Red Hat’s RHEL, Asianux and Oracle Enterprise Linux. These decisions are based on customer demand and Oracle’s focus on enterprise Linux usage.”

Oracle Enterprise Linux is Oracle’s own Linux distribution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Earlier this year Oracle claimed that it had more than 2000 customers on its version of Linux. All told Oracle’s Linux initiatives are worth at least $500 million in revenue.

“We’ve spoken to them [Oracle] before,” Canonical’s Yates said. “I think that Oracle is in a different situation than most ISVs because they have their own Linux. I think that it’s easier for them to sell their own Linux than it is for them to start selling Ubuntu.”

Yates added that Oracle support is something he would like, but that it’s not on his short-term hit list.

Next page: SAP holds its line?

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SAP holds its line

SAP, however, does not have its own flavor of Linux. It, too, does not currently support Ubuntu.

“SAP is certified to run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server,” Michael Bechauf, vice president of industry standards at SAP, told InternetNews.com. “At this time we are responding to customer demands in the enterprise space, and will determine our support strategy accordingly.”

Though Oracle and SAP are not currently supporters of Ubuntu, IBM, a mainstay in enterprise software, has supported Ubuntu since 2005. IBM’s support, however, is not across the board and was originally just a certification for the DB2 database product. Last week, IBM’s partnership with Canonical expanded to include IBM Lotus Symphony as part of the joint Microsoft-Free PC effort.

The partnership that IBM has with Ubuntu, however, is not at the same level that IBM has with Red Hat and Novell.

“Our work with Ubuntu is focused on areas where Ubuntu is getting traction,” Inna Kuznetsova, director of Linux at IBM, told InternetNews.com. “As for other areas, we’ll explore them as they come up. Our Red Hat and Novell relationships are very robust and include all IBM server lines and support for a huge number of IBM middleware products.”

Enterprise content management vendor Alfresco, however, is seeing increasing usage of Ubuntu for deployment. In its recent Open Source Barometer study, the company reported that 23 percent of its users were on Ubuntu as compared with 35 percent for users on Red Hat distributions of Linux.

In terms of getting wider acceptance for Ubuntu, Canonical’s Yates is clear about what needs to be done.

Canonical is continuing to work on getting OEMs to preload Ubuntu and is continuing to build a system of partners. It offers Ubuntu as a preload on Dell PCs, and Best Buy stores sell Ubuntu on their shelves.

“It’s all about certification and the ecosystem, and it’s what we’ve been working toward,” Yates said. “Having partners and applications available are key. It’s the applications, and it’s always been about the applications.”

Though Oracle and SAP don’t currently support Ubuntu, plenty of other vendors do.

“There are lots and lots of opportunities out there,” Yates said. “We’re still growing as a company.”

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