The Linux operating system got a boost yesterday with Oracle's announcement to align itself with leading commercial Linux vendors. How much momentum Oracle will be able to add to future development of Linux, however, remains to be seen, analysts said.
Specifically, Oracle today announced plans to form marketing and technology alliances with Red Hat Software, VA Research, SuSE and Japan-based Pacific HiTech.
Under the strategic alliance, Oracle will link its web site (http://www.oracle.com) with the Web sites of the four Linux vendors, who will distribute the Oracle's flagship Oracle8 database on Linux via their Web sites. The alliance partners will also direct Linux developers to free membership in the Oracle Technology Network.
Oracle previously announced that it is readying its Oracle8 database and Oracle Applications for the Linux operating system running on Intel-based PCs and expects to ship the software during the end of 1998 and first quarter of 1999, respectively, the company said.
Oracle8 and Oracle Applications on Linux will increase options for present current Linux users that wish to deploy enterprise-class applications with increased performance at lower costs, Oracle said.
Analysts, however, said Oracle's endorsement of Linux is a move against arch rival Microsoft .
"I think that Oracle's support of Linux is more lip service than anything else," said Jon Oltsik, an analyst with Forester Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "This is more of a defensive move to keep the pressure on Microsoft."
Oracle is jumping on the "anti-Microsoft bandwagon" and is not going to put a lot of money into this venture, Oltsik added, saying that adding Linux support is not a difficult move for Oracle to make.
Linux has done well as a Web server both in IT space and in campus space, but has not and will not become a major operating systems platform in the corporate market, Oltsik said. But, Linux is a great fit for companies that have limited budgets because it is free, Oltsik said.
Martin Marshall, an analyst with Zona Research Inc. in Redwood City, California agreed.
"What makes Linux attractive to companies like Oracle, IBM and Netscape is that it doesn't have the Microsoft name on it," Marshall said. "Oracle has a vested interest in keeping hearts and minds away form Microsoft," Marshall said adding that Linux gives people with a Unix presence another option than Microsoft and Windows NT.
Oracle's expanded support is a big boost for the members of the Linux community, who are looking for solid applications running on the operating system.
"If there are no applications what good is the operating system?" Marshall said.
While the Linux is essentially free, commercial Linux vendors enhance the operating system through adding features, capabilities and support.
RedHat sells products and provides services related to the Linux operating system; VA Research develops Linux workstations and servers for the enterprise, Internet and engineering markets; Pacific HiTech develops TurboLinux, an operating system, and other Linux software products and SuSE develops and supports the precision engineers SuSE Linux operating system.
More information on Linux can be found at http://www.linux.org/.
Oracle, in Redwood Shores, can be reached at http://www.oracle.com/. Red Hat Software, in Research Triangle Park North Carolina,can be reached at http://www.redhat.com/. VA Research, in Mountain View, California, can be reached at http://www.varesearch.com/. SuSE, in Oakland, California can be contacted at http://www.suse.com/. Pacific HiTech , in Tokyo, Japan, is at http://www.pht.com/.