Eye on Oracle

May 25 2010   1:10PM GMT

Red Hat: Oracle isn’t an open source company

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Paul Cormier (photo courtesy of Red Hat)

Paul Cormier (photo courtesy of Red Hat)

In today’s installment of Obvious News, a Red Hat exec recently said he didn’t consider Oracle to be an open source company. Really? That’s funny, because I don’t think Oracle thinks of itself that way either.

I mean sure, Oracle has its open source elements which have been made that much more robust with the Sun Microsystems acquisition. But if you were to ask 100 IT people to describe Oracle, I doubt any of them would say that it’s an open source vendor.

“I wouldn’t even consider calling them an open source company at all,” Paul Cormier, president of products and technologies at Red Hat, recently said. “When you’re making a choice as a company on what’s open and what’s closed then your customers suffer.”

According to Cormier, a company isn’t an open source company unless everything it creates is open. So according to him, even Sun Microsystems wasn’t open. Cormier said the development around OpenSolaris, for example, wasn’t a true community development. Rather, it was done mainly by developers within Sun.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has not minced words when it comes to his plans for the Sun Microsystems acquisition. It is his goal to make money and those parts of Sun that are not profitable will likely fall by the wayside. Simon Phipps, Sun’s chief open source officer, left following the acquisition — or more accurately, he was never offered a job at Oracle. That’s not to say that open source and profitability are mutually exclusive, but then again, Oracle as a company is about 20 times bigger than Red Hat.

Cormier continued:

“There are pieces that are open,” he said about Oracle. “But what we do, is open everything. We don’t say ‘here’s this part of the operating system that’s open, but this other part is closed.'”

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