Oracle has signed up Yahoo as its first major Linux customer, announced the company's chief executive Larry Ellison. In a conference call to analysts about the company's financial results, Ellison noted that Oracle has signed several new support contracts, some for over half a million dollars.
In claiming Yahoo, Ellison stated that Oracle had displaced Red Hat at the Internet company, as well as at other sites that he did not name.
Red Hat responded by saying that it has not been replaced at Yahoo, and Yahoo's spokesperson Leigh Day was quoted in news reports as saying that the company's current infrastructure leverages both Red Hat and Oracle Linux products.
Ellison added in the conference call that Oracle would not be trying to build up its Linux business overnight, but that Linux is a major focus for the company. Dell, HP, and CDW have all signed on to resell Oracle Enterprise Linux, and the company's support service is up and "running well," Ellison stated.
Oracle first unveiled its Linux-support program late last year, at its annual user conference. The company announced that it would provide the same type of enterprise-class support for Linux that is available for its database, middleware, and applications products.
At the time, Ellison said in a statement that Red Hat "only provides bug fixes for the latest version of its software." The strategy often requires customers to get a new version of Linux software just to get a flaw fixed, he posited.
Oracle's alternative was dubbed Unbreakable Linux, aimed at providing bug fixes to current, previous, and future releases of the operating system.
In response, Red Hat created a section on its site called "Unfakeable Linux," and emphasized that Oracle was making changes to the code independently of Red Hat.
Oracle vs. Red Hat
The current wrangle over Yahoo might represent the beginning of a new tussle between Oracle and Red Hat. But it is possible that the companies will not be the only ones involved in the battle over winning more customers through the use of Linux.
In general, any company with enough resources to create a comprehensive Linux play could have a chance at gaining some market share. "Because Linux is an operating system that's freely available, any company can pick up the distribution and use it," said IDC analyst Al Gillen. "The revenue generated from Linux isn't in the distribution."
Instead, companies gain revenue through support and services, which IBM has been successfully doing for years, Gillen added.
Although he did not comment on the dust-up at Yahoo, he noted that the question for customers deciding between Oracle and Red Hat will be which company will give them better support, and pointed out that, in some cases, companies might blend the two offerings within the same infrastructure.