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Oracle/Novell deal signals more Linux-based DB alternatives

News that Oracle's database and collaboration applications will be available on Novell SuSE Linux 9 is good news for both companies, giving users more viable Linux database alternatives.

The news that Oracle Corp.'s database, clustering and collaboration applications are now available and supported on Novell Inc.'s SuSE Linux Enterprise Linux 9 (SLES 9) is not only a strategic move for both companies, according to experts, but it also signifies that Linux has finally broken into the database market.

The demand for Linux at the enterprise level is continuing to expand.
Charles King,
principal analystPund-IT Research

The expansion of the Oracle/Novell partnership comes on the heels of Tuesday's announcement from Sybase Inc. that the Adaptive Server Enterprise relational database management system would be available on IBM's eServer running OpenPower technology.

Analysts said the move was a make-or-break one for Sybase, whose strong Unix play could translate into a logical next step to Linux. Long-term analysis of the bigger picture, however, shows that a more mature Linux platform is having a profound effect on the database market.

"Novell and Oracle are working together to provide applications that perform right out of the box," said Hal Bennett, Novell's vice president of alliances. "We do the integration work so our customers don't have to."

Charles King, principal analyst of Hayward, Calif.-based Pund-IT Research, said the deal is a strong move for both Novell and Oracle.

"The demand for Linux at the enterprise level is continuing to expand," King said. "There are some new opportunities arising almost on a weekly basis."

King said Novell also has a close partnership with IBM, and combined with the Oracle certification, Novell's momentum in the Linux market will only increase.

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"Novell can now basically push Linux to a new level of usability using a partnership with the other very, very large database vendors out there besides IBM," King said. "Basically, this means that as the Linux 2.6 kernel becomes increasingly mature, [Novell] will have database tools from both IBM and Oracle."

Meanwhile, Gartner principal analyst Michael McLaughlin said the IBM OpenPower platform, based entirely on Linux, is not yet a growth platform for IBM, but would certainly be in the future. As the 2.6 kernel matures -- and if OpenPower can catch fire with independent software vendors – companies like the struggling Sybase could recover, while users could benefit from database choices that could give SQL Server a run for its money.

Novell and Oracle executives are equally optimistic about the partnership expansion. Bennett said the deal is another example of the choice customers now had in the database.

"Combining the power of Oracle with the 2.6 kernel in SuSE Linux 9 makes for a compelling data center option for enterprise customers," Bennett said.

Even more compelling was news that Oracle Database 10g running SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 is responsible for setting a Transaction Processing Performance Council TPC-C benchmark world record on non-clustered Linux.

As far as existing Oracle customers go, King said this new opportunity would give them the chance to play around in the open source space, an arena they may or may not be involved with yet.

"In the shifting sands of the applications market, more may start to play here with open source," he said.

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