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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

May 17, 2006 at 11:46 AM

Linux rumblings: Oracle and IBM vs Red Hat

Oracle and IBM may gang up against Red Hat by jointly supporting their own enterprise version of Linux, according to a Goldman Sachs report issued today.

Wall Street has speculated for weeks that Oracle will offer its own operating system, perhaps based on Red Hat’s open source system. Goldman followed up by interviewing Eben Moglen, general counsel to the Free Software Foundation.

The conclusions: Oracle can “legally replicate” Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a move that could eventually give Oracle 10 percent of the Linux market.

“We believe Oracle may also seek IBM’s support, possibly for a joint Linux distribution. To date, however, IBM has not been as combative as Oracle in openly discussing plans to compete with Red Hat,” it said.

Red Hat has benefited from the big enterprise companies’ contributions to Linux, but that may change.

“For Oracle, IBM, and HP, supporting the Linux movement meant developing an independent operating system platform that could offer them cheaper total cost of ownership stack to compete against Microsoft and Sun,” the report said. “However, in supporting Red Hat and Novell in the Linux market, none of these open source community partners ever intended for one company, Red Hat, to obtain a dominate market position in Linux and move up the infrastructure stack to compete against them in the way Microsoft does. Ironically, it seems that Red Hat’s partners have helped to create another company like Microsoft that can leverage its dominant operating system position and deliver great value up the infrastructure stack (operating system + application server + database + middleware + applications) and compete more broadly against these vendors.”

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