Red Hat ships the Xen VM with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), with the same Red Hat source code that Oracle uses to build its Unbreakable Linux operating system.
But Oracle chose to go directly to Xen.org to download the source code for its own Oracle VM. While Red Hat runs Xen from within an operating system, Oracle runs its VM on a server. From here the Oracle VM deploys agents or images to computers without an operating system on them, creating virtual servers.
Oracle describes its VM as a console for the management of Xen, complete with a built-in operating system, making it a software appliance. The appliance has paravirtualized drivers for RHEL 4 and 5 but currently runs Windows without paravirtualization, resulting in sluggish Windows performance. Oracle claims its VM is three times more efficient than the leading VM (presumably VMware), but this comparison does not refer to speed so much as to the use of resources on a box. On a box that needs an OS and VMware installed, running via VMware would take up roughly three times the resources; Oracle’s software appliance saves space.
Oracle’s virtualization strategy
The Oracle VM is free to download and use; those wanting support will have to sign up for a paid plan. But Oracle says that its virtualization solution is still cheaper than Red Hat’s. RHEL supports some virtualization (at no extra cost), but full-blown implementation requires an additional product: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform.
The Red Hat solution calls for Red Hat-certified products from third parties, but an Oracle VM will run only Oracle databases, middleware and applications. By releasing its own VM, Oracle avoids third-party complications (such as software dependencies and support finger-pointing) and third-party payments. It also ends up controlling the software stack from top to bottom, including virtualization.
One can presumably find Oracle VM customers among the 1,500 that Oracle says already pay for Unbreakable Linux support (Dell, Stanford University, McKesson and Mitsubishi, among others). The unknown number of customers already running Oracle on VMware now have to decide whether to accept Oracle support (along with the Oracle VM) or continue to run on the competitor’s product with support from Oracle. Oracle customers who already run on Xen will find the switch to Oracle VM easier, of course.
Oracle says it has 9,000 developers at work on its software products, including Linux, and points out that Red Hat’s total employees amount to only 2,000. Oracle needs all its software skills to track Red Hat as closely as possible. Red Hat is upping the ante by announcing that in 2008 it will offer software vendors the Red Hat Appliance Operating System. Applications can be written to this layer to produce a software appliance that will run on any Red Hat system, physical or virtual, no matter where it is located.
Linux has accelerated virtualization
The Age of Virtualization is upon us, and I don’t believe we would have gotten this far this fast without open source software. Virtualization and VMware originated on mainframes, and when IBM finally “got it,” it used Linux to revive a company that was sinking slowly into the past. By adopting Linux, it came up with an OS that could be used on all of its hardware. And by applying its mainframe know-how, it came up with such marvels as the mainframe that could configure itself to be multiple-server instances by day, then turn back into a mainframe at night (for order taking and order batch-processing, respectively) or any combination of mainframe and servers). Moving client/server over to mainframe virtualization eventually gave way to cloud computing. Combined with grid computing, servers and applications are now thought of as “somewhere out there” in a virtual space. Because IBM made these improvements to Linux, the code was fed back into the Linux kernel, which was meanwhile being improved from the other direction (such as hundreds of servers being linked to form a mainframe). The invisible hand of the free market supplied a wealth of code that could be freely downloaded and reworked for anyone’s use.
All this happened in a world in which the dominant computer systems in businesses were desktops that eventually (with the help of open source BSD code) managed to form networks. They used one type of processor design (Intel) and one brand of operating system (Windows). VMware caught the eye of open source developers not only because it allowed network technicians to design, build and test networks while using only a single box, but because it took on the problem of how to use both Linux and Windows on a single box without rebooting.
This achievement rattled the windows in the Wintel offices. A few years earlier, Netscape boasted prematurely about its plans to build a platform that would be OS-independent and died as a result. And IT departments, tired of having to do separate installs for each Windows box, admired the way Linux could be shot over the wire to an unconfigured machine. This was an early virtualization concept that looked ahead to a world we may yet enter, one where the end user’s processor and software may be something other than Wintel. Porting apps would be less necessary if they were written to a layer high enough above the operating system(s).
Long ago, IBM and Apple had a joint venture to develop such a layer. The plan was to use layers to effectively virtualize operating systems and processors. Taligent collapsed from the weight of its own ambitious plans, but we are a lot closer to its goal. Now even Microsoft is getting into virtualization, competing with Red Hat and Oracle to build virtual data centers that most effectively use resources in real time.
Now that the open source Xen project has taken on some of the functions of VMware, what will become of this proprietary product that had so much to do with the current virtualization surge? It is difficult in an expanding market to say that VMware’s sales will drop, for it is already giving away the low-end server version of their product. Because it handles many more operating systems and does more things than Xen, VMware will survive in a specialized marketplace. The question is, will Xen push down VMware prices? Or, as with the move from CentOS to RHEL, will Xen’s position at the low end of the market serve to support a high price for VMware?]]>
Lucky Larry, no?
And that’s just the stock news. On the tech side, Oracle’s announcement signals clearly that the future of the operating system as we know it today is again in flux. Truly, Oracle VM is Target: Red Hat AND Microsoft Windows.
Gordon Haff, a senior analyst with Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc. was, as always, in front of this issue from the beginning. He was quoted heavily in our sister site’s day one coverage of Oracle VM and then mere hours later he was posting more of his expert analysis on the Illuminata Perspectives blog on how Oracle would love for the kids to start just saying no to drugs and operating systems, thank you very much.
“There’s a nasty little war afoot over the future of the operating system.” — Gordon Haff, Illuminata
That’s Haff’s lead to a blog post titled “Oracle: Just Say No to Operating Systems,” and it’s pretty spot on, IMO.
The battle has many sides, each with many players, and every one of them has officially solidified his or her strategy for the future. You have smaller players like application vendor rPath carrying a big stick with rBuilder and pre-packaged virtual appliances; then there are the operating system vendors peddling new wares like Red Hat Appliance OS (AOS), announced last week, which seeks to create a massive Red Hat-certified channel of appliances built on an “optimized RHEL” in the first half of 2008.
And let us not forget another major operating system vendor: Viridian and Microsoft’s standalone hypervisor. Due out next year, it will officially make Microsoft the last big name vendor to get a hypervisor of its own out onto the market, but … that last point is a moot one, I think, and Haff agreed in a recent post covering the MS hypervisor’s big reveal. “Microsoft has a huge footprint in data centers — and even more in the IT installations of smaller companies. Thus, however tardy and reluctant Microsoft’s arrival to virtualization may be (Virtual Server notwithstanding), its plans and presence matter.”
But back to this operating system war. Billy Marshall, CEO of rPath, has been particularly vocal about this topic during the past year, and for good reason: This former Red Hatter has built a business around mitigating the importance of the operating system in the enterprise and couldn’t wait to lace into his former employer following the AOS announcement.
“It will be interesting to see how Red Hat manages the conflict between their legacy general-purpose operating system business and the technology requirements associated with delivering JeOS to support an application vendor-maintained virtual appliance,” Marshall said in a statement sent to SearchEnterpriseLinux.com.
He even blogged a Top 10 list, Letterman-style, to prove his anti-certification point even more:
Top Ten Responses to Certification Problems
10 – Re-install and call me back if you are still having problems.
9 – Can you send me a test case that reproduces that problem?
8 – It works for me.
7 – Have you been to any of our training classes yet?
6 – This is obviously not an application problem. Call the OS vendor.
5 – My shift is about to end and I am going to need to transfer you to someone else
4 – Did the sales guy talk to you about our consulting services?
3 – I’m going to need to escalate this one to engineering
2 – Your support contract doesn’t cover this type of issue
1 – Take a picture of your screen and email it to me because I have never seen anything like this
I half expected a flying pencil or Paul Shaffer to burst forth from my laptop after that last one. Perhaps the certification touted over and over again by Red Hat during our call last week is more Achilles Heel than Golden Fleece? We shall see.
Roger Burkhardt from Ingres gave some real world examples of why he thought rPath’s model would work best (hint: it’s because they built their BI appliance with rBuilder).
I’m in your camp, (Billy) … I’ve never bought a “kit car” myself and back in my CTO role at the NYSE I didn’t want my team building the software equivalent. I had 30 people just building development stacks for trading systems alone and – to your point – they started with certified components. The need to coordinate patches between various vendors sometimes led to substantial project delays. Now, at Ingres, we have addressed this with your team and our customers and partners are reporting enormous reductions in effort from our rpath and JasperSoft-based Ingres Icebreaker BI Appliance. A 75% reduction in effort is at the low end of the metrics reported back and the speed improvements are even greater.
And then there’s Oracle. According to Haff, the Unbreakable Linux department, from which this Xen-based Oracle VM announcement sprung yesterday, is “based on the idea that when you buy an application from Oracle you also get some bits that let the application sit on top of the hardware and perform necessary tasks like talking to disk. Oracle has been subsuming operating system functions like memory and storage management for years; subsuming the whole operating system was just the next logical step,” he said.
And I’ll let you connect the dots from here: Oracle VM is based on Xen, which is a hypervisor, which by definition is all about subverting the role of the OS. Oracle is just taking the whole thing a step further, a step roughly the size of Larry Ellison’s private yacht, to the point where they want to reduce not only the role of the OS (with Unbreakable), but also the hypervisor. Trouble is, there’s really no data available today to support the theory that IT managers are ready to accept separate silos of hypervisors from a slew of different vendors and then one dedicated to just Oracle applications.
For now, the biggest challenge Haff saw facing Oracle is similar to that facing software appliances in general. “There’s an implicit assumption that users will be willing to have one virtualization for their boxes that run Oracle and another virtualization for everything else. That the maker of the hypervisor bits doesn’t matter,” he said.
So far, there’s scant evidence that users are willing to be quite so blase about their server virtualization. Furthermore, brand preferences aside, it remains early days for standards that handle the control and movement of virtual machines across virtual infrastructures sourced from different vendors. — Gordon Haff
This is an announcement and a trend with long term implications. There’s nothing to see here in the short term and, just like Unbreakable Linux, once the original run of press stories and industry discussion dies down, it will stay pretty quiet. For now.]]>
According to Oracle, its new server virtualization software supports both Oracle and non-Oracle applications. Oracle products like Oracle Database, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Applications are all certified with Oracle VM.
Consisting of open source server software and an integrated Web browser- based management console, Oracle VM provides a graphical interface for creating and managing virtual server pools, running on x86 and x86-64-based systems, across an enterprise. Oracle VM offers:
Oracle applications, middleware and database software currently certified with Oracle VM include:
– Oracle Database 10.2.0.3 and 11.1
– Oracle Application Server 10gR2 and 10gR3
– Oracle Enterprise Manager 10.2.0.4
– Oracle TimesTen 18.104.22.168
– Oracle Berkeley DB 4.6
– Oracle E-Business Suite 11.5.10 and 12
– Oracle’s PeopleSoft Enterprise 9.0
– PeopleTools 8.49.07 and above
– Oracle’s Siebel CRM 8
– Oracle’s Hyperion 9.3.1
I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this very soon. The big questions now: Do we really need another hypervisor, and, what role will the OS play in the future, if any?
UPDATE@3:30 pm. EST: As far as specs for Oracle VM… it’s built off of Xen so the license itself is free. Oracle will only charge for support (either 2 proc for $499 or unlimited proc for $999 per instance). That’s from our man/woman on the inside, so look for confirmation later.]]>
In our article, “Red Hat users pine for discounted support”, a Pacific Crest Securities survey of 188 enterprise operating system buyers — 86 of whom were Red Hat Inc. support customers — revealed that one-third of respondents said Red Hat would need an Oracle-like discount of 50% to 74% to keep their business.
A story from down under today leads me to believe that Pacific Crest might want to revisit that survey for another go.
Max McLaren, Red Hat Australia managing director, said Red Hat has not been losing business to Oracle for support, with one exception: Melbourne firm Opes Prime Stockbroking said it would switch allegiance to Oracle last year.
McLaren told Australian IT that “out of the top five banks in Australia, four are our customers … (but) we don’t have much penetration in the insurance sector. That’s an area to work on.” He added that the Pacific Rim is another area of huge expansion for Red Hat, which we kind of touched upon in previous posts on the Enterprise Linux Log (or TELL for short).
So that’s Red Hat’s take abroad anyway. I’m sure McLaren made sure his comments went through the spin cycle a few times before he said them, but it’s interesting to see how little of an effect Oracle *might* be having on Red Hat’s business. It’s about one year in now, so we’ll see if Unbreakable is maturing or manuring, if you get my meaning.]]>
Much was said of why Oracle chose to release on Linux first and decline comment on the other OS’s, with most of it focusing on the fact that Linux was “here to stay” or “mission critical” or whatever. That very well may be be the case, but I decided to dig a bit deeper thanks to an inside tip from one of my many infamous blog spies.
After the tip, I called over to Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna, who follows Oracle, to discuss 11g, Linux, and the fact that Windows SQL Server is pretty hot right now. Hot enough for Oracle to take notice anyway, and make a huge push behind Linux. Was it Oracle making bank off of Linux, or Oracle positioning itself against Microsoft? Both?
We agreed that Linux is a huge moneymaker for Oracle, and has been for some time. Another analyst firm, Gartner, compiled some numbers recently that bare this out: Gartner’s recent report showed that Oracle on Linux grew 72% in 2006, which was faster than overall relational database management system market growth and faster than “general RDBMS growth” on Linux (67%).
Wim Coekaerts, Oracle’s vice president of Linux engineering, told me during a call we had set up for LinuxWorld that the growth is expected to continue. More Unbreakable Linux customers were announced at LinuxWorld, including game company Activision, which will “gradually” switch over to Oracle Linux (based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and has purchased support from Oracle. There’s already more than a few dozen customers on record saying they went to Oracle for their Linux support, but Coekaerts said the list has grown much larger than that since Oracle Linux was announced in late 2006. FYI — More on that call and our Oracle 11g on Linux coverage will be live soon on SearchEnterpriseLinux.com.
Michael Dolan, who works for IBM but blogs 100% independently from that company on his blog at MichaelDolan.com, put things into perspective with some thoughts on 11g, Linux and hardware a few weeks back.
Ok, I added the “[Oracle 11g] for Linux” b/c I’m sure they still support all the usual platforms. I actually saw this today and thought… hmmm… what will happen to all those 10g (or pre-10g) Solaris, HPUX and Windows systems when those customers go to upgrade? Solaris and SPARC are on their way out, Windows = Microsoft and Oracle hates that, and HPUX is on a rotting Itanium vine and many users wouldn’t dare go there… I suspect with Oracle going to Linux as its primary OS of choice (RHEL based) we’ll probably see yet another round of thousands of systems moving onto Linux.
Sure it’s skewed because he works for IBM, but does the message bear out where the messenger might be tainted by some bias?
IDC and Forrester don’t track specific numbers, only market share, so comparisons between the number of Oracle databases on Linux and Windows are hard to come by. However, Yuhanna told me during our call that Windows customers are a “lost cause” to Oracle because by and by they are completely content with SQL Server and would be hard pressed to switch soon, if ever. But Linux is growing by leaps and bounds, and Unix is still there to be cannibalized. Oracle, Yuhanna said, might be using Linux not only as a moneymaker, but as a defense against losing more market share to SQL Server.
Oh, and they might acquire Red Hat. Maybe. Stay tuned to SearchEnterpriseLinux.com and sister site SearchOracle.com for more on this soon.]]>
While Wednesday marked the official unveiling of Oracle Corp.’s 11g database and a look at its new features, pricing and availability information was pretty thin on the ground. All the vendor would confirm is that the Linux version of 11g will ship this quarter, probably in August.
“It’s our intention to do a pricing announcement closer to the release date,” said Chuck Rozwat, executive vice president, server technologies at Oracle. “It’s just a matter of weeks before we make that announcement.”
He was speaking during a question-and-answer session following a more than two-hour 11g launch event in New York. Oracle wouldn’t comment on when 11g would be available for the other operating systems the database will support including Microsoft Corp.’s Windows.
Other versions will undoubtedly ship later in the year, but for now this marks a small coup for Linux and is a reflection of Oracle’s continued support for that OS in enterprise environments.]]>
The article was a mash-up of some stuff I had left over from May’s Red Hat Summit in San Diego, an interview with author and SELinux expert Frank Meyer, and an exchange with our new blog contributor Jim Klein, the the director of information services and technology at California-based Saugus Union School District. (Link: With RHEL5, Red Hat goes to bat for SELinux)
The comments at Slashdot are arriving from readers on all sides of the SELinux aisle. Some agree that SELinux has come a long way and that people like Red Hat’s Dan Walsh are right to ask it be turned on all the time; others agree with the assertion that its already been typecast as too complex; while some fall in the middle asking for more advice. Oh, and some just plain hate it.
Here’s some of that straightforward advice, from Slashdot reader BigBuckHunter:
Step 1: Install RHEL, disable SELinux
Step 2: Install and configure your stack (apache, jboss, tomcat, mysql, whatever)
Step 3: Enable permissive mode, light up the stack, watch logs
Step 4: Tweak the rules, repeat step 3 until the logs are clean.
Step 5: Enable Enforcing Mode
You can now rest a little bit easier knowing that you have SELinux enabled. The only drawback is that you sometimes have to repeat the process as new versions of your stack are released (mysql, jboss). It’s basically a monthly process.
This is not the last of our coverage on SELinux. Watch for more as it continues to mature.]]>
While writing about Jim Klein’s decision to stop using Novell NetWare and SUSE, I searched for other stories on similar subjects. I came across Don McAskill’s thoughtful post on “The Enterprise Linux problem” on his SmugBlog.
In this post, Askill — CEO of an online photo-sharing company called SmugMug – describes his company’s experiences with several operating systems, ranging from SUSE to Red Hat to Solaris. He also laments the dilemma of a lot of people who want their purchases to reflect their beliefs: When push comes to shove, can you afford to pay a higher price for a product — in this case, Red Hat Linux — because its maker follows principles you believe in?
I really enjoyed reading this blog and the comments.]]>
Oracle said it’s making headway in building support for its Unbreakable Linux, but some open-source partners say the software giant hasn’t created a serious threat to mainstream market leader Red Hat.
“We are not seeing Oracle in any major way in the Linux opportunities we are encountering,” said Ken McLaurin, senior marketing manager of open source and virtualization at Akibia, a Westborough, Mass.-based solution provider.
Chris Maresca, founding partner at Olliance Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider, also said he doesn’t see Oracle gaining much traction with Linux.
“They don’t have much credibility in the Linux community, and they are not adding any value to Linux, just support,” Maresca said. “In that sense, they will always be behind Red Hat.”
When I spoke with IDEAS International senior analyst Tony Iams about this yesterday, he said this was par for the course for any new OS. Adoption is slow now, yes, but if Oracle continues with these customer and ISV announcements month over month, then Red Hat could have a legitimate threat on their hands.
“It will be interesting to see if Oracle can keep up these kinds of announcements. For this to be truly effective, Oracle really needs to be able to match Red Hat’s support ecosystem with minimum compromises,” he said. There’s a lot of “if” and “could” being thrown at you up in there, I know.
The CRN story is telling, yes, but then again it’s still early and yesterday’s ISV news shows there is some interest, somewhere, for Oracle Enterprise Linux. It will be interesting next couple of months, for sure, but something tells me the folks at Red Hat aren’t exactly sweating bullets just yet.]]>
Companies such as 170 Systems, AppWorx Corp., Egenera, EMC, Emulex Corp., Hitachi Data Systems, QLogic and Synoran (all members of the Oracle PartnerNetwork, mind you), now include Oracle Enterprise Linux among the operating systems they support. Additionally, open source companies including KnowledgeTree and SugarCRM will also support the Oracle Unbreakable Linux Support Program.
Monica Kumar, Oracle’s senior director of Linux and open source marketing, told me in a phone call Monday that Oracle is seeing growing interest from its partners to support their products with Oracle Enterprise Linux and ensure compatibility for their customers. This announcement appears to support that claim. Kumar also said Oracle has maintained full compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
And still there’s no news from Red Hat on price cuts for support. That’s not really a shock, given the fact that there’s only been 9,000 downloads of Oracle Enterprise Linux, but I can’t imagine that still being the case if, in six months, we’re still getting weekly updates and customer wins from Oracle (Kumar called me roughly two weeks ago with the ‘Yahoo is now an Oracle Enterprise Linux user’ pitch).]]>