Making Linux Unbreakable, Keeping Linux Open
Making Linux Unbreakable, Keeping Linux Open
By: Jeremy Geelan
Aug. 11, 2003 12:00 AM
LWM: How long have you personally been involved with Linux?
LWM: What's Oracle's current commitment to Linux?
LWM: What exactly does a "Linux liaison" do?
LWM: How does Oracle help its customers take full advantage of Oracle software on Linux?
LWM: How about open systems, do they play a role, from an Oracle standpoint?
LWM: Is there any way to actually quantify Oracle's commitment to Linux, for the benefit of LWM readers?
LWM: What do you think the primary reasons are for the explosive popularity of Linux?
First, the cost savings. Linux is a less-expensive alternative to other operating systems. Yes, this is obvious, but worth stating. Since Linux is free, the cost of implementation drops significantly. Second, Linux runs on lower-cost, nonproprietary hardware solutions, so you can deploy on low-cost commodity hardware. Third, Linux is open source, so dependence on a single OS vendor is replaced with greater innovation, freely shared. As with any new, low-cost, nonproprietary solution, it gets cheaper over time.
LWM: And how do these advantages translate for Oracle customers?
LWM: So in other words, you eat in your own kitchen?
We've discovered that Linux on low-cost, commodity hardware is a proven technology for mission-critical apps such as Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle9i Database with Real Application Clusters. In fact, we run Oracle E-Business Suite on a Linux/Intel middle tier. This Global Single Instance (GSI) in our Austin Data Center provides mission-critical applications to more than 40,000 Oracle employees worldwide; the Oracle E-Business Suite GSI on Linux is five times cheaper and three times faster than conventional Unix/RISC.
Looking more closely at Linux inside Oracle worldwide, we run more than 700 mid-tier Linux servers, including most of Oracle University, the Oracle e-mail system, the Oracle Web site, Oracle's ERP/CRM application middle tiers, and the Oracle File System. In fact, our own development organization uses hundreds of Linux servers, and Oracle even runs its demonstration environment - where performance is critical - on Linux. By the end of Oracle's fiscal year (June 2003), we plan to have 100% of our mid-tier servers on Linux. Finally, more than 1,000 developers at Oracle use Linux as their development environment. This shows our commitment to Linux because running our own production systems on it means that we trust and are serious about Linux.
LWM: How about Oracle's Linux Kernel contributions?
The nice thing about Linux from Oracle's point of view is that we can prototype OS feature enhancements together with Oracle database enhancements in-house. This allows us to quickly determine if some new idea is feasible to implement or not, and if so, we can create a possible reference implementation for other vendors to pick up, or even show other OS partners how it will benefit them as well.
Oracle is actively supporting the Linux open source community by contributing source code for products such as the Cluster File System, driving development of the Linux kernel, and working with the Linux community to provide higher levels of security assurance for the operating system. We recently announced with Red Hat an intent to submit Red Hat Linux Advanced Server for a Common Criteria (ISO 15408) evaluation at Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL) 2. This evaluation is expected to enable security-conscious customers in both the public and private sectors to procure an evaluated Linux operating system upon which they can run enterprise applications.
LWM: Is there much debugging and Quality Assurance (QA) happening at Oracle?
For fun, we even made Firewire driver changes to allow for shared-disk devices and fixed bugs in bus reset handling on Firewire. This is useful to Oracle users because it offers an easy and inexpensive solution for creating a shared-disk setup. A simple thing like this allows people to install and use our database clustering technology, Oracle9i Real Application Clusters, in a test and demo environment. In addition, it helps them understand the features and power behind our database clustering technology without having to purchase expensive equipment first.
LWM: Does any one project come to mind as being of special significance?
LWM: How about tech support?
For DBAs, an elegant bug-free implementation for clusters has been a hurdle, and that's now been removed. Perhaps the next-biggest hurdle until now has been technical support. We not only certify and support our applications on these Linux distributions, we also support the Linux operating system itself. This is incredibly significant because Oracle, working closely with Red Hat and UnitedLinux, is a single point of contact for customer support. As a result, Oracle customers on Red Hat Advanced Server or UnitedLinux get improved response and faster resolution of critical issues. As a single support organization, we ensure the highest level of support and availability to our joint customers.
Any customer running Oracle products on Red Hat or UnitedLinux should turn to us for support if they have an issue that prevents the smooth operation of their Oracle implementation. We'll diagnose the issue and work with the OS partner for those cases where the operating system is suspected of causing the issue. For those issues of a mission-critical nature, Oracle will provide a fix to the customer regardless of the source - whether it's an Oracle, Red Hat, or UnitedLinux issue. And for additional support issues, Oracle will collaborate with the Linux partner so that the customer issue is resolved jointly. All this is done seamlessly for the customer without them having to get involved. It's important to note, however, that Oracle customers looking to benefit from this front-line support must have a support agreement in place with the Linux distribution.
LWM: How exactly is Oracle making Linux "unbreakable"?
In fact, we also offer thousands of compatible Linux-based solutions from partners. In conjunction with Dell and HP we deliver easy access to high-performance servers that are ready to run Oracle9i Database technology out-of-the-box, allowing customers to deploy high-performance, enterprise-class solutions on the lowest-cost hardware and operating system infrastructure available today.
Furthering our commitment to Linux, Oracle recently launched the Unbreakable Linux Partner Initiative, which gives financial, technical, and marketing incentives to ISVs delivering applications on Oracle's Unbreakable Linux software infrastructure. ISVs that join the initiative through the Oracle Partner Network get technical and support resources from my team and Oracle's support organization to help them build their applications.
Only Oracle has its complete infrastructure and applications product lines available on Linux, and strategic partnerships with Red Hat and UnitedLinux. Together, Red Hat and UnitedLinux serve more than 95% of the Linux OS server market worldwide. Oracle customers everywhere can now take advantage of our front-line support for the Linux operating system.
LWM: Developers, network administrators, and database administrators all have high hopes for Linux, which continues to be the fastest-growing enterprise computing environment. What do you see as the most likely future for Linux?
LWM: So what's coming in the future from Oracle?
In short, stay tuned for even greater Linux things from Oracle and from my group! We have cutting-edge technology, and there are many more technical improvements that we can contribute to the Linux OS that no one has yet solved. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with partners such as Red Hat and UnitedLinux to bring these technical improvements to the masses.
About Wim Coekaerts
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