Oracle may launch its own version of Linux

Larry Ellison says he does not want to spend billions on open source software

Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison is considering the release of Oracle's own version of Linux after realising the purchase of one of the two major Linux vendors was not cost-effective, according to a story in the Financial Times.

According to the article, Ellison says Oracle examined purchasing Red Hat or Novell, but did not want to spend billions of dollars for open-source software because it can be developed by anyone.

"The reason I have a hard time writing cheques for billions or hundreds of millions of dollars for things that are open source is that if we could do this, other people could do this too," he is quoted as saying in the article.

But since Oracle's largest customers are looking for one supplier to provide them with an entire stack of software — from an OS up to applications — Oracle could benefit by offering Linux, Ellison says in the article. Then the company would be able to offer a complete stack of infrastructure software and give customers what they want, he says.

Oracle built its business on the shoulders of its database, but in recent years has expanded its portfolio to offer Java-based middleware and a range of enterprise applications. Oracle's stash of enterprise applications was bolstered during the past year and a half when it acquired PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems.

With a Linux OS under its belt, Oracle would resemble its competitor Microsoft more than it would another chief rival, SAP. Currently, Oracle competes against Microsoft in the middleware, applications and database markets, though Oracle Java-based middleware offerings are not considered to be best of breed. Oracle and SAP compete mainly on enterprise applications.

Gordon Haff, a senior analyst with Illuminata, says he suspects Ellison's comments to the Financial Times were less about a real plan to offer Linux and more about the CEO's tendency to think out loud.

"It sounds more like Larry speculating and musing more than anything else," he says. "I very much doubt if there is an outpouring of customer desire for a Linux from Oracle at the end of the day."

However, Haff says it certainly is possible and would in fact be easy for a company of Oracle's size to develop, release and support its own Linux distribution, as well as certify its own applications to run on that Linux.

If that were to happen, though, he says it's not likely that Oracle's competitors would be lining up to certify their applications to run on an Oracle Linux distribution. Therefore, the only customers using the OS would be those that only run Oracle applications in their IT infrastructure, Haff says.

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Tags open sourceOraclenovellRed Hat

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