Asianux ready for prime time, Oracle says

Asian demand for enterprise servers running the Linux operating system, already strong, will get a further boost from the development of Asianux, a version of Linux that has been developed as a standardized distribution for enterprise customers in Asia, according to a top executive at Oracle Corp.

Released in June, Asianux was jointly developed in Beijing by China’s Red Flag Software Co. Ltd. and Japan’s Miracle Linux Corp., in which Oracle holds a 58.5 per cent stake. Both Linux vendors currently offer products based on Asianux 1.0: Red Flag’s Red Flag DC 4.1 and Miracle Linux version 3.0.

“This is really, we think, a threshold point in the development of the industry. The Asia-Pacific region was always aggressive on Linux and this is going to help us a lot,” said Charles Phillips, co-president of Oracle, during a webcast of his keynote speech on Tuesday at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in Shanghai.

Phillips reaffirmed Oracle’s plans, first announced in January, to provide support for Asianux customers. The company will provide Asianux customers with global, around-the-clock support for Asianux, endorsing the distribution as a certified version of Linux alongside distributions from Red Hat Inc. and SuSE Linux AG, a Novell Inc. subsidiary, among others, Phillips said.

“You can call us and we’ll support (Asianux) directly,” he said.

In addition, Phillips pledged to extend Oracle’s rolling upgrade technology to Asianux, which will allow users to upgrade one node on a grid-computing network and extend that upgrade to all of the nodes on the grid. With the release of Asianux 1.0 in June and a 64-bit version designed for Intel Corp.’s Itanium II processor to be released in August, demand for Linux in Asia will only get stronger, according to Phillips.

“This region is really a leader in the Linux movement,” Phillips said. “China has been a major driver. The government support here for Linux has been fantastic and we applaud that and expect to see more of it.” “We don’t need a huge, general-purpose operating system that adds overhead to what we’re trying to do. We need something thin, fast, efficient and inexpensive, essentially almost a device driver is what we’re looking for ,” Phillips said. “Linux is perfect for that.”

Adoption of Linux in Asia has been given a boost by growing demand for low-cost servers based on the open-source operating system and servers based on processors from Intel instead of more expensive servers based on proprietary operating systems, Phillips said.

“The battle is almost over in that market. …Too many large customers are designing for the future with Linux and Intel in mind. It’s just a matter of time,” he said.

While demand for Linux has been strong among Asian companies, adoption of the operating system in Asia has been complicated by the availability of different Linux distributions, Phillips said. Adopting Asianux as a standardized version of Linux will give the market a boost by allowing customers and software vendors to focus their development and deployment efforts on a single version of Linux, he said.

“This is an important tipping point in the sense that we’ve had that happen in the U.S., we’ve had it happen in Europe, they’ve each had their dominant flavor of Linux. We had three competing versions here, now (Red Flag and Miracle have) cooperated and converged on Asianux now and so this can be low-cost, secure and high-volume now,” Phillips said.

However, Asianux won’t be without stiff competition in Asia.

Rival Linux vendor, Turbolinux Inc., has built a strong presence in Asia, including China, and offers its own enterprise version of the operating system, Turbolinux Enterprise Server 8, that is based on UnitedLinux. UnitedLinux is a version of Linux which was jointly developed by Turbolinux, SUSE, The SCO Group Inc. and Connectiva SA, and is also certified and supported by Oracle.

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