Oracle looking to Linux

Within next five years, half Oracle's customers may be running Linux, says Oracle President Charles Phillips.

SAN FRANCISCO--Within the next five years, half of Oracle's customers may be running Linux, company President Charles Phillips has predicted.

The open-source operating system is a key piece in filling out Oracle's technology stack, which takes a soup-to-nuts approach, from applications to the database. The missing piece is the operating system, a slot Linux can fill in a variety of ways, Phillips said Tuesday, during a keynote speech at LinuxWorld here.

Oracle's customers have increasingly adopted Linux as they've become more comfortable with it and recognized its lower costs and greater predictability, Phillips said.

Charles Phillips
Co-president, Oracle

Twenty percent of Oracle's customers currently use Linux, but Phillips expects that figure to climb.

"I think over 50 percent of our customers will use Linux in the next five years, if not sooner," Phillips said, noting that a 90 percent figure may be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to ever attain.

Another sign that Oracle's customers are becoming more comfortable with Linux is the migration path they're taking.

During the past 12 months, Phillips said, he has seen an increase in the number of customers using Linux machines to run databases and Java application servers, rather than slowly testing the waters with application servers running on Linux and then later adopting a Linux database.

Currently, 1,500 software companies support Oracle on Linux, he said.

During his presentation, Phillips highlighted Oracle's efforts in the Linux arena. One of the first moves the company made dates back to 1998, when it debuted a database on Linux. That was followed two years later with a database for 64-bit Linux.

Other steps Oracle has taken include its open-source and Linux test labs and the formation of its Oracle Linux kernel team to offer code-level support for its entire software stack.

Industry researchers, meanwhile, placed Oracle's market share for the Linux database at 81 percent in 2004, while IBM held a 17 percent slice and other vendors accounted for 3 percent, Phillips said. uses Oracle's Linux database on RAC--the Real Application Cluster version of the database that spans several machines--while Vanderbilt University is using Oracle's Linux grid.

"These aren't just small customers using Linux," Phillips said.

Grid computing is a major initiative at Oracle. The company has placed big bets that linking multiple computers together into a "grid" that replaces a single expensive system will be an ever-increasing trend.

"Linux is a key part of the grid. You need a structured approach, a standard approach, to configure these computers...Linux is at the heart of that," Phillips said.

Oracle also announced Tuesday that it has made its Oracle Cluster File System Release 2 generally available and that independent software developers Kronos, McKesson and Yantra are using its software on Linux to deliver their own products to customers.

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