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December 10, 2006

Red Hat dismisses threat posed by Oracle and Microsoft

Red Hat Inc's executive vice president of worldwide sales, Alex Pinchev, has dismissed the impact that Oracle Corp's entry into the Linux support business could have on Red Hat, insisting Oracle does not really know what it is doing.

By CBR Staff Writer

Pinchev also described Microsoft Corp’s recent interoperability and patent peace deal with Novell Inc as a non-event and dismissed the suggestion that Linux users are at risk of a patent infringement lawsuit from Redmond.

They rolled out something that they don’t understand, Pinchev told ComputerWire of Oracle’s announcement. He [Oracle chief executive, Larry Ellison] tried to announce that Oracle is supporting Red Hat Linux, what he really announced is Oracle forking Red Hat Linux.

Last month Ellison announced at Oracle’s OpenWorld event that the company is to strip the Raleigh, North Carolina-based company’s copyrighted material out of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux code base and add its own updates and patches, all the time undercutting the Linux vendor on support pricing.

Redwood City, California-based Oracle maintains that it can do this and retain the software and hardware certifications for RHEL, but Red Hat disagrees, insisting the move will create a new Linux distribution.

Pinchev said there are 3,000 software applications and 750 hardware platforms certified on RHEL and that this will be critical when customers come to make a choice between Oracle and Red Hat’s offerings. People are not buying an operating system for fun, they are buying it for a business application. That’s what they[Oracle] are breaking, he added.

What is the value they are trying to deliver? Ask Oracle, ‘what is your roadmap’, the answer will be ‘go to Red Hat’ [and ask them]. They are going to bring to market an Oracle operating system based on Red Hat, Pinchev insisted.

As well as lacking its own development roadmap, Pinchev insisted Oracle’s offering will also be inherently less secure than RHEL, pointing out that Oracle will have to wait until Red Hat releases its patches to the open source community and then compare those with its own before deciding whether to use them or not, and then delivering them to customers.

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They are delivering no innovation, delayed patches, delayed releases, no real knowledge of open source and no involvement with the community, so where is the value? he asked.

Pinchev also said that Oracle had launched its offering on a basic misconception of the value customers get from open source software. They are not buying just the support, they are buying the speed of innovation, because this is very important today to compete. They are going to open source for innovation.

Oracle’s attack on Red Hat’s support business is not the only problem the company has faced recently. Just eight days after Ellison’s announcement, Red Hat’s Linux rival Novell announced an interoperability and patent peace deal with Microsoft.

The deal enabled Microsoft chief executive officer, Steve Ballmer, to suggest that users of other Linux distributions face potential patent infringement lawsuits, although he failed to detail any outstanding patent claims against Linux.

Pinchev was even more dismissive of the Novell-Microsoft deal, describing it as a non-event. People know what it means for a company to partner with Microsoft, he said, suggesting it would not be in the best long term interests of Novell, while also dismissing the suggestion that Microsoft will ever bring a patent infringement suit against an IT user.

‘Would you sue your own customers? I wouldn’t and I don’t believe Microsoft will ever do it, he said, while also rejecting out of hand Microsoft’s attempts to do a similar deal with Red Hat. For us the open source community is not for sale, he said. Innovation is not for sale.

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