Oracle endorses

Oracle Corp. is not trying to fork Linux with its Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, a new Linux kernel the company is now endorsing as the best option for use with Oracle software, said Edward Screven, chief corporate architect with Oracle.

Screven called it “the best Linux for enterprises,” using words like modern and reliable as descriptors, during the Monday keynote at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

Despite the strong endorsement, Oracle will continue to ship two kernels with Linux: Red Hat Compatibility Kernel and the new Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel.

Screven said Oracle is giving customers an option besides Red Hat. But the company is not trying to fork Linux, insisted Screven, and will continue to work on making Oracle products compatible with Red Hat to support those customers who choose Red Hat.

Existing customers of Oracle Linux 5 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 will be able to upgrade to the new kernel. Part of Oracle Linux, the Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is derived from the 2.6.32 mainline Linux kernel.

Oracle’s message here is a bit confusing considering it has spent several years working to make its products compatible with Red Hat, said Sebastien Ruest, vice-president of services research with Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd.

The reality is Red Hat doesn’t have the same R&D breadth as Oracle and, naturally, Oracle customers will be moving beyond what Red Hat has to offer, said Ruest.

“The point now is Oracle is slowly going to say Oracle Linux will be the best enterprise system for development and for management,” said Ruest. “I think it’s just better control of the environment.”

Screven, onstage, also hinted at some redundancy now that Oracle has Solaris alongside its own Oracle Linux, but that Oracle will continue to work on developing Solaris.

Oracle will preview Solaris 11 during the OpenWorld ahead of the general availability planned for early 2011. John Fowler, executive vice-president of systems with Oracle, said onstage the company has made a “significant investment in the next iteration” of the operating system acquired through the Sun Microsystems merger.

The company has worked on making the new iteration faster and easier to deploy, said Fowler, who came to Oracle through the Sun acquisition. Before the 2011 general availability, Solaris 11 Express will be available end of 2010 on Oracle’s new Exadata X2-2 and X2-8 databases.

Ruest said while Oracle is doing a “fairly good job” integrating and expanding Sun’s products, there still remains much overlap between Oracle and Sun environments, such as Solaris and x86 products. “The products that don’t fit within the full strategy will obviously be migrated out,” he said.

Among the announcements at OpenWorld was an update on Oracle’s long-awaited Fusion Apps. “More than five years later, we’re finally there,” Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said during the Sunday keynote.

Fusion Apps represents the best features of Oracle, Peoplesoft and Siebel and “re-implemented those features on top of a modern middleware infrastructure,” said Ellison.

Ruest said Oracle’s neuroticism about product launches, preferring not to release anything until it is perfect, has led many customers to get concerned about how all the acquisitions would be integrated. “Oracle had to make a statement about Fusion,” said Ruest.

New co-president at Oracle, Mark Hurd, also made an appearance at OpenWorld following his recent controversial departure from Hewlett-Packard Co. Fowler praised Hurd’s opening keynote by saying, “not a bad two weeks on the job.”

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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