Red Hat Inc has hit back at Oracle Corp’s attempts to undercut its Linux support business, maintaining that the move will produce a fork of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux code base that will be incompatible with certified hardware and software.
Oracle announced on Wednesday that it would take RHEL, strip out the Red Hat copyrights and add in Oracle bug fixes to create Unbreakable Linux, offering support for at least half the price of Red Hat.
The company maintained that Oracle would support all x86 and x64 hardware certified for RHEL and that users could continue to use any application certified for use with RHEL, prompting Red Hat to deny that hardware and software certifications will be valid.
Oracle has stated they will make changes to the code independently of Red Hat. These changes will not be tested during Red Hat’s hardware testing and certification process, and may cause unexpected behavior. Hence Red Hat hardware certifications are invalidated, Red Hat said in a statement entitled ‘Unfakeable Linux’.
The same goes for software certifications, said Red Hat, adding that the source code of the two Linuxes will be incompatible. The changes Oracle has stated they will make will result in a different code base than Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Simply put, this derivative will not be Red Hat Enterprise Linux and customers will not have the assurance of compatibility with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux ecosystem.
Red Hat also pointed out that Unbreakable Linux will not enjoy Red Hat’s security certifications, that Oracle’s security updates will naturally be delayed if they follow Red Hat’s, and that Oracle will have a different build and test environment.
The company also maintained that Oracle cannot guarantee API and ABI compatibility with RHEL, while pointing out that many of Red Hat’s customers actually get their front line support from a hardware vendor, with Red Hat as backup.
While businesses with a large Oracle database or applications investment might be tempted to take up its offer of Linux support, it remains to be seen how many IBM- or HP-subscribed customers will be prepared to make the move.
Red Hat also pointed out that Oracle’s support offering did not take into account any of Red Hat’s other software products, such as the Application Stack, Cluster Suite, Directory Server, and Certificate System, as well as the recently acquired JBoss middleware.
While Red Hat was bullish in defending itself against Oracle’s attack on its market share, there is no doubt that it is under threat. The company’s share price target was cut by Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, JMP Securities and SunTrust Robinson as its shares plummeted over 25%, leaving it in danger of becoming a takeover target.