Oracle has outlined plans to enhance its business and technology relationship with Novell's SUSE, potentially disrupting what has been a handy revenue stream for its current Linux partner, Red Hat.
Oracle president Charles Phillips told a press conference at the company's local Oracle World conference that the company hoped to establish a partnership with SUSE that resembled its current deal with Red Hat, where the companies work together to identify market prospects and provide all-in-one solutions including support and installation.
'We need another flavour there,' said Phillips. 'It's just a question of timing.'
Gus Robertson, vice president for Red Hat's southern Asian operations, said he was unconcerned by the appearance of a new rival for Oracle's affection, pointing to quarterly uptake numbers that show Red Hat remains the dominant enterprise Linux distribution.
'There's still plenty of growth opportunities for Linux across the board,' he said.
Providing support has proved to be a critical differentiator for companies selecting Linux distributions for enterprise-wide use.
Mike Kennedy, CIO for the NSW Office of State Revenue, shifted his department's Linux servers from Debian to Red Hat after finding it near-impossible to get trained staff or support services for Debian, much favoured amongst the Linux cognoscenti but lacking commercial backing.
'All the contracting houses said if you want Red Hat, it's not a problem, but Debian was harder,' he said.
Dismissing concerns that companies didn't want to pay for support on a free operating system, Kennedy pointed out that his support bill from Red Hat was still considerably lower than from Microsoft or Sun. 'As a CIO, I just want a supportable system.'