Oracle offering may be catalyst for Linux move

Market prospects for Linux are improving in the wake of Oracle releasing a version of its 9i database for the open source software in a hardware bundle.

Market prospects for Linux are improving in the wake of Oracle releasing a version of its 9i database for the open source software in a hardware bundle.

Gen-i managing director Garth Biggs, who has expressed scepticism about the support effectiveness of open-source software (see Linux just a blip: integrators), thinks the release may improve the situation and perhaps boost the willingness of businesses to take on that particular open-source product.

“In the old days, when you bought a database system one of your first questions would be: Whose operating system have you designed for?” he says. There was an “A-list” of dominant OSes for which the DBMS was specifically rewritten, and a “B-list” of “ported” product, which might be expected to be less reliable on its new host. Oracle clearly pitches 9i on Linux as an A-list product, but it remains to be seen whether it will make that grade in the minds of users, Biggs says.

The database and applications vendor last week released a hardware-software package based on Red Hat Linux and Oracle’s own 9i database system, mated initially with Dell hardware, though the combination will be released on other Intel-based servers in due course.

Air New Zealand vice-president of strategy and planning Andrew David says the airline “will definitely be interested” in the new offering. “ We are an Oracle user [currently chiefly on Sun Solaris] and we are also looking at Linux going forward,” says David, who was previously the airline’s CIO.

It has attractions in terms of consolidation of servers and as a reasonably priced environment, he says. He says any move will be considered in the normal course of the company’s upgrade plan.

Bob Walker, a Wellington-based regional IT manager at the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research, says the development is “very interesting, not in our immediate future, but in the longer term we’ll certainly be looking at it”.

NIWA runs several crucial databases on Oracle under Digital Unix and Tru 64. “The support that Oracle offers on Digital Unix is quite low,” he says, and there is a question mark as to whether Linux support will be better. “But we’ll certainly have to look at [the offering] very carefully,” he says.

Oracle NZ managing director Leigh Warren sees the combination having definite relevance to the New Zealand market, with what he sees as its particularly positive attitude to open source software.

Analysts in the US given a preview of the plan predicted last week that the Oracle-Linux-Intel package could not only attract across the users feeling uncertain about Microsoft licensing; it could also be a threat to Unix leaders like Sun, offering a more economical alternative to their operating systems.

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