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Red Hat's database move mirrors Microsoft

The company takes a page out of Microsoft's playbook as it launches a new product that adds database software to its operating system.

Red Hat took a page out of Microsoft's playbook Monday as it launched a new product that adds database software to its operating system.

As previously reported, Red Hat is bolstering its core Linux operating system product with Red Hat Database, a higher-level server software for handling databases, e-commerce transactions and Web page delivery. And with the move, Red Hat's product portfolio is coming to resemble that of Microsoft's Windows NT and 2000 line.

Databases--programs that let servers store every kind of information, from a parts inventory to medical records--are a key part of the infrastructure of computer networks. Red Hat is aiming its product at lower-end customers such as small companies or departments of large companies. The tack--at least for now--keeps the Durham, N.C., company out of competition with top database seller Oracle.

However, in the longer term Red Hat's plans could put more of a squeeze on established database companies such as Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. IDC predicts the market for database software running on Linux computers will grow from $42 million in 2000 to $7.8 billion in 2005.

Red Hat may be small compared with Oracle and Microsoft, but it's an 800-pound gorilla compared with its open-source software competition. Companies that likely will feel the pressure of Red Hat's arrival in the database market include Progress Software subsidiary NuSphere, AbriaSoft, IBPhoenix and Great Bridge. Red Hat considered a partnership with Great Bridge before deciding to offer its own product and service.

Red Hat Database can be purchased two ways, the company said: as a $199-per-month subscription through the Red Hat Network or as a $2,295 standalone product including documentation and installation support.

The new software from Red Hat is based on PostgreSQL 7.1, the company said.