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Red Hat CEO suggests Oracle is feeling the heat 81

Posted by Hemos
from the can-you-feel-the-heat dept.
Rob writes "The previously rosy relationship between Oracle Corp and Red Hat Inc appears to have soured following Red Hat's acquisition of JBoss Inc and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's suggestion that his company could move into the Linux business. Red Hat's chief executive, Matthew Szulik, has written in response to a recent interview with Ellison in which Ellison suggested the company would be interested in distributing and supporting Linux. "Is it possible that the dominant provider of databases feels pressure from its long-time partner, Red Hat, because of our recent purchase of an open source middleware company, JBoss?" Szulik asked, although he also played down suggestions of a "showdown" between the two companies."
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Red Hat CEO suggests Oracle is feeling the heat

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  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Monday April 24, 2006 @09:37AM (#15189393) Homepage Journal
    If anyone feels like reading the actual letter Szulik sent to the Financial Times, they can read it here. [ft.com]

    There is also a no-reg-required mirror [zoss.org.zw] at the zimbabwe open source software society.

    The most intersting part of the letter is where szulik puts a new twist on the (always perfect) car / computer analogy
    I have a much better appreciation of the challenges the Japanese carmakers faced when attempting to break into the domestic US market while competing against historical industry practices and the personal networks that stood in the way of customers having access to a lower-cost, higher-value alternative. Open source software and Red Hat continue to face similar challenges. But in the end, through innovation and a commitment to the customer, the Japanese automakers delivered choice to the customer. The US automotive industry is a good case study, in comparison to the state of the domestic US software industry.
    Well put.
    • i don't think that the car analogy matches here.

      very many of todays projects are today started on linux/jboss combo just because of the low startup cost. if the project becomes massive, it will become cheaper to have oracle than maintaining an complicated jboss combination with many dependancies from different software producers.

      i don't even see these products in the same league, redhat+jboss isn't really comparable with oracle if you take a look deeper what oracle has to offer. sure it's ex
    • The Japanese auto manufacturer analogy is very good, for those of us old enough to remember. Their first auto import efforts were absolute garbage, a kind of laughable joke, when compared to the North American autos.

      But along came an oil shortage and high gas prices, and coupled with the "continuous improvement" cycles of the Japanese auto manufacturers, in a matter of years they had arguably a better product than the domestic autos. Wooing the customer with things like no argument warranty also got them
  • Showdown? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Will Larry fucking kill him? Has he done it before, and will he do it again?
  • by Toby The Economist (811138) on Monday April 24, 2006 @09:49AM (#15189468)
    Oracle could swallow Redhat without even needing a context switch.
    • Re:Showdown? lol (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Earl (1894) on Monday April 24, 2006 @02:35PM (#15191586) Homepage Journal

      There's a funny thing about market economies. The market produces what people have shown an interest in paying money for. If Oracle were to buy Red Hat with the intention of shutting Red Hat down, then you can basically guarantee that several other "Enterprise" Linux distributions would spring up as if by magic. This is especially true if Oracle paid current market prices for Red Hat. The source code in question would still be available, and there would be a large community looking for a new home.

      In the long run Oracle is likely to have the same problems as Sun. Like Sun, Oracle's real problem is that Red Hat offers a software stack that is competitive with Oracle's software stack while maintaining an R&D budget that is a couple orders of magnitude smaller than Oracle's budget. Oracle's size is precisely the problem. As commodity software becomes more and more widespread the ridiculous profit margins that Oracle needs to survive will get harder and harder to produce. Sure, there are lots of Oracle customers that can't really afford to move to a lower cost but less featureful software stack, but Oracle is going to find that an increasing number of its customers are unwilling to pay for features that they don't really need or use. Lots of technical folks get all excited about "Enterprise" software, but in the long run inexpensive commodity software that actually gets used tends to move up the technology stack and crowd out software that relies on the huge profit margins that can be found at the high end of the spectrum. Red Hat's cost structure is designed around taking advantage of the much lower profit margins associated with commodity Free Software. Oracle's cost structure, on the other hand, is designed around the much higher profit margins that Oracle has historically been able to squeeze out of the market. Oracle can pretend that it can compete with Red Hat, but really it can't, not without shedding a lot of its workforce. If Oracle were to lower its workforce so that it was competitive with Red Hat then customers that are currently paying huge margins for Oracle products and services would undoubtedly take their business elsewhere.

      • Lots of technical folks get all excited about "Enterprise" software, but in the long run inexpensive commodity software that actually gets used

        s/technical folks/clueless managers/ [1]

        [1] clued managers don't get excited about "enterprise" stuff. They use the best tool for the job, regardless of what the salescritter says.
  • Windbags (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <`wgrother' `at' `optonline.net'> on Monday April 24, 2006 @09:50AM (#15189476) Journal
    While not exactly a declaration of hostility, the letter is provocative given the change in relationship between Red Hat and Oracle noted by Goldman Sachs. Ellison had the first words with his statement that "they're not supporting the customers very well," now Szulik has responded.

    And so the pissing contest begins. Why? Of what possible use is it? None. Look, Oracle wants in to the Linux market, so it can compete both within the open source arena and have a chance at digging into Microsoft's market share. I've said repeatedly this move is about 5 years overdue. Since it appears Oracle is not interested in Red Hat or Novell (I said appears; never let it be said Ellison couldn't change his mind in a heartbeat), they'll go after someone else, like Ubuntu. This doesn't stand to hurt Red Hat or Novell; any Linux distribution they swallow up is going to end up having its creativity choked off by the bloated development structure that is Oracle.

    Move along -- nothing to care about here. We'll see how it pans out in the marketplace when and if Oracle takes the plunge. Sabre rattling at this point is just silly.

    • Re:Windbags (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SeeMyNuts! (955740)
      "Of what possible use is it?"

      These things at least get decision makers to stop for a moment and have "Oracle" or "Red Hat" enter their thought stream.
    • Since it appears Oracle is not interested in Red Hat or Novell (I said appears; never let it be said Ellison couldn't change his mind in a heartbeat), they'll go after someone else, like Ubuntu.

      Who says they need to go after anyone? They could simply take the source and fork off of it, like Whitebox and Centos did.
    • Re:Windbags (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TallMatthew (919136)
      Ellison's right. RedHat is horrible at support. Practically useless.

      I worked at a company with a large Oracle installation (8xCPU, 12 TB of data) running on RedHat. The machine would freeze every once in a while, requiring a costly reboot. We talked to RedHat who told us we needed to use a program to dump the machine state (there was no core file as the box didn't oops) so they could examine it. There was a way to do this through the serial port, but with 32 GB of memory dumping the machine state would
  • mysql? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NynexNinja (379583)
    I really don't think Redhat or Jboss has anything to do with Oracle or any pressure that might be put on them forcing change in their business. If anything, MySQL is largely responsible for this... When you have a database that a) is faster than Oracle and b) supports all the features of Oracle and c) can be clustered easier than Oracle and best of all d) it does not cost $200,000 per copy. I would be concerned too.. Their market share is fading away. I think Redhat is only referencing this to make them
    • Certainly not most people who are using it.
    • Re:mysql? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      a) No.

      b) LOL.

      c) Riiiiight.

      d) Oracle doesn't cost 200k per copy.

      Damn. Quit spewing lies man.

      How the hell did this get mod'd +5? Insightful? LOL! Damn troll.
    • Re:mysql? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by adolfojp (730818)
      MySQL and Oracle are two different products aimed at two very different markets.

      While MySQL will be more than enough for many uses, there are some situations where using it instead of something like Oracle is irresponsible, if not downright criminal.

      Saying that MySQL can compete with Oracle in terms of speed, features, and clustering capabilities is an argument that is not grounded in reality.
    • Re:mysql? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fireboy1919 (257783) <.rustyp. .at. .freeshell.org.> on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:20AM (#15189639) Homepage Journal
      Umm...nobody who uses databases ever claims B). On the constrary: MySQL has less features than most of the database engines out there.

      However, nobody cares about most of the extra features. So let's change B) to: supports all of the features of Oracle that most people care about

      Did you know that Oracle comes with something to do a text search on almost any document type, including those accessible through URLs? And that you can do fuzzy searches based on that, and that the database can learn to give better results via an expert system? It's a pretty nice search engine. Does MySQL come with a search engine?

      Also, if I've said it once, I've said it a million times: don't exaggerate. The personal use version is free, and Oracle is $5k per copy for the one-processor, coarse-grained security model. The high-end one for clustering that you seem to be thinking of is $40k, not $200k.

      My guess is that the market share of stupid people who buy Oracle when all they need is MySQL is dying. However, there really are people who want to do extremely sophisticated stuff that only Oracle is providing. Oracle's real up-and-coming competition for their real market is Google, I think.

      If Google will do all the indexing and does a better job of managing your data without you having to even configure it, then why should you manage it with Oracle?
      • You can do fulltext searches with MySQL too, you only need to switch to Google-style indexing, and this "dictionary" indexing is so easy to implement and has no rival in performance (like in MSSQL those guys still dont have a clue). As for "fuzzy" logic, in this case you only need to maintain bigger cache and this design grants that everything goes smoothly even on databases with millions of large text entries, the only drawback is space consumption, but in the times of gigabyte hardisks that is not an issu
        • It can fetch and parse webpages, parse doc, pdf, powerpoint, rtf, and about 150 other file formats?

          No. And there isn't anything near an expert system front-end on searching in MySQL. It doesn't know file systems, and all it can do is the equivalent of a fuzzy grep to search text. Fuzzy is a relative term, and in this case, I mean more when I say fuzzy than what MySQL does.

          Don't get me wrong, though: I currently only use one app that needs Oracle. All the rest are much more highly suited for MySQL.
      • I work for a mid-sized university, whose primary finance/management package is SCT Banner. The back-end database is hosted on an 8-way Compaq Galaxy System (GS-80) cluster (running VMS... don't ask.) Yes, the licensing costs for Oracle alone approach half a million per year.

        That being said, license costs are not the most expensive part of the equation. The developers and DBAs that support these systems are more expensive than the systems themselves.

        Yes, software can be pricey, but developers and administ
    • When you have a database that a) is faster than Oracle and b) supports all the features of Oracle and c) can be clustered easier than Oracle and best of all d) it does not cost $200,000 per copy

      I think out of all of those reasons it is d) is the one making more than 90% of the impact on oracle's business.

      Most companies are starting to realize that they don't need the 5 million features that oracle offers (and charges for). So they are looking around for something cheaper/easier to manage etc... He

      • I think out of all of those reasons it is d) is the one making more than 90% of the impact on oracle's business.

        Gosh, I'll say - if it in fact costs that much. Oops, it rarely does - a quick check of Oracle's web site could have refuted the original claim.

        Most companies are starting to realize that they don't need the 5 million features that oracle offers (and charges for).

        It's fascinating to see this line of reasoning. I have two counterpoints:

        1) Have you noticed that MySQL is striving to inclu
    • Re:mysql? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kpharmer (452893)
      Ugh, you're unfortunately wrong on just about every account:

      > a) is faster than Oracle

      The only situation that mysql can beat oracle in is probably highly-indexed read-mostly content management use with its caching front-end. In reporting read-only environments mysql's lack of parallelism & partitioning means that Oracle can easily be *40x* the speed of mysql.

      > b) supports all the features of Oracle

      Don't even know where to start on this one. MySQL doesn't even support all the features of Postgres
    • "Their market share is fading away."

      Firstly, that's just not true by any stretch of the imagination. Oracle makes more money than RedHat's , Boss, or MySQL's combined annual revenue in a matter of HOURS.

      Let's also recognize that "market" implies economic exchange. Share of market is $revenue$, not merely downloads or usage. If everyone runs an unsupported copy of MySQL, it doesn't really hurt Oracle too much in the short run, as there's no money to be made there, and it's not Oracle's target market. It
  • by vallee (2192) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:02AM (#15189540)
    The thing is, this affair of Oracle considering entering the Linux support arena and even shipping its own Linux distro is not new. Not even close.

    It dates from 1998, during the initial launch of Oracle 8i. Since then, and arguably for even longer, Oracle has had a consistent strategy of undermining the role of the operating system by taking on more and more of the critical duties into its own code base. Linux plays into this strategy marvelously well. Except, here's the rub. Redhat is not interested in the furtherance of this agenda. Redhat wants the operating system to remain a key part of the enterprise IT infrastructure.

    I wrote an interesting article on my blog [pythian.com] titled "Oracle & Linux, Ancient History" on this subject last week, and the article links to the web archive of my original post about Oracle and Linux and Oracle's strategy to undermine the OS from 1998. The original article's title was "Why Oracle 8i Will Remodel the OS Landscape" and ultimately what we're seeing now in the tension between Oracle and Redhat is the materialization of Oracle's vision of the operating systems' role chafing on its longstanding partner.

    Cheers,
    Paul
    P.S. Pythian DBAs post on our group blog at http://www.pythian.com/blogs/ [pythian.com].

  • Good idea for Oracle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert@sl[ ]dot.fi ... m ['ash' in gap]> on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:10AM (#15189571) Homepage
    It would make a lot of sense for Oracle to produce a complete dedicated package that didn't require an OS already be installed. Most Oracle database systems are dedicated machines anyway, so having the entire package supported by a single vendor instead does make a lot of sense. No more Database vendor blaming the OS vendor :)
    • by WinterSolstice (223271) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:17AM (#15189609)
      That'd be nice, except that with IBM DB2 on IBM AIX running on IBM RS/6000 systems, they still point fingers. I have repeatedly been forced (as a customer) to make different divisions within IBM talk to each other. It would seem to be good, but it really is almost the same.

      -WS
      • I have repeatedly been forced (as a customer) to make different divisions within IBM talk to each other. It would seem to be good, but it really is almost the same.

        That is consistent with my limited experience with IBM hardware and software. IBM is so huge that nobody there knows more than 0.00001% of what is going on. This may have changed from November of 2000 when I first and last dealt with them, but that was only an install of a project that didn't go much further than an install. The install was ro
      • However, IBM produce an AIX as a standalone OS, Oracle would be providing an OS for the sole purpose of hosting their database and appservers etc, therefore it's likely to be designed around and supported by the same group of people.
    • by DavidpFitz (136265) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:21AM (#15189642) Homepage Journal
      It would make a lot of sense for Oracle to produce a complete dedicated package that didn't require an OS already be installed. Most Oracle database systems are dedicated machines anyway, so having the entire package supported by a single vendor instead does make a lot of sense. No more Database vendor blaming the OS vendor :)
      Funnily enough, Oracle did this with the Oracle Appliance [google.com] for 8i and 9i. They never made an Oracle 10g appliance. It was exactly as you outline above - it's a preconfigured software stack to run Oracle. Everything already set up in a basic form. Made life very easy when needing to test a DB agnostic app against Oracle.

      Oracle have since removed reference to it from their site.
      • Funnily enough, Oracle did this with the Oracle Appliance for 8i and 9i. They never made an Oracle 10g appliance. It was exactly as you outline above - it's a preconfigured software stack to run Oracle. Everything already set up in a basic form. Made life very easy when needing to test a DB agnostic app against Oracle.

        Oracle have since removed reference to it from their site.


        Any speculation as to why they stopped developing it? (or am I missing something?)
    • I would agree 100%. I think linux distros will just be another tool that enterprise vendors will be obligated to provide as part of their whole solutions.
      I wouldn't be suprised if Microsoft does this to remain competative.
  • You know, JBoss is still an open source and free (LGPL'd) just like innoDB. So you could still use it in your Oracle product.

    Now, that's a consultant fee. Send me my check to my address.

    Yours truely screwed by Oracle consultants,
  • There is a simple thesis/antithesis/synthesis process at work. The success of Linux is creating forces that oppose its own further success.

    Already last fall, one might theorize that Oracle Corp. had decided it had been feeding Linux enough, and that it should start watering some other ecosystems:

    Oracle Selects Solaris as preferred OS [oracle.com]

    • Already last fall, one might theorize that Oracle Corp. had decided it had been feeding Linux enough, and that it should start watering some other ecosystems: Oracle Selects Solaris as preferred OS

      Oh please, that was so obviously a bone thrown to Sun. I'm sure it was not done without some consideration given by Sun to Oracle. Plus, it's easy to announce that Solaris is your preferred OS when ... well ... Solaris is your preferred OS. The market for Oracle boxes running on Linux is growing rapidly and m

  • Oracle wants an OS that runs on commodity (x86) hardware, so that it can publish a virtual machine with Oracle preconfigured. (Reference the Oracle appliance of days of yore.)

    Why?

    Because virtualization is hot in databases. Having lots of servers spinning idle that you may need (and paying Oracle for the privilege) is costly, and Larry sees market share, well, if not eroding, then certainly being nibbled at. By shipping a distro with Oracle preconfigured, he:

    1. Shows a commitment to his customers for a l
  • As long as they are backing restrictive IP legislation, Red Hat do not have my support in any form.

My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income. -- Errol Flynn Any man who has $10,000 left when he dies is a failure. -- Errol Flynn

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