Oracle software stack appeals to users

Oracle customers welcomed recent musings by company CEO Larry Ellison about Oracle potentially offering its own Linux distribution.

Oracle customers are intrigued by recent musings by Larry Ellison, the company's chief executive officer, suggesting Oracle might offer its own Linux distribution. Users would welcome the tighter integration a complete Oracle software stack of operating system, database, middleware and applications could provide.

"An Oracle-hatched version of Linux would undoubtedly be the most optimal when running Oracle [databases]," said Tony Jedlinski, vice president, administration and warehouse operations of Roman, a wholesale gift-ware distributor. "I don't know if there's a need yet. I'd have no hesitation adopting it if the Oracle brand name was on it." An Oracle Linux would give more credibility to the open-source operating system and lessen any doubts users might have in adopting the software, he added.

Jedlinski is also executive vice president of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) and vice president of the group's Web operations. Linux is set to become the dominant operating system used by IOUG members, displacing Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris flavor of Unix, according to a survey conducted earlier this year.

Whether Oracle ends up developing or acquiring its own Linux or puts in place a strategic Linux partnership to get closer to the open-source operating system, Ari Kaplan, IOUG president, likes the idea of a complete Oracle software stack. More tight coupling between Linux and Oracle databases would result in both faster database performance and improve manageability of the software, he said.

The software stack idea will be one likely discussion topic at the Collaborate 06 technology and applications forum due to take place in Nashville, Tennessee, April 23-27. Expected to attract over 5,000 attendees, the forum will bring together three leading Oracle user groups as well as Oracle executives and third-party vendors.

The user groups are the IOUG, which focuses on technology and databases, the Oracle Application Users Group (OAUG) and Quest International Users Group. OAUG serves a broad community of Oracle application users while Quest concentrates on the PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards application customers Oracle acquired through the January 2005 purchase of PeopleSoft.

Key concerns among Oracle users include security and how the vendor is progressing on its road map to bring its applications together, according to Kaplan, Jedlinski and John Matelski, president of Quest and chief security officer and deputy chief information officer for the city of Orlando.

While Oracle users appear happy with the company's improvements in providing patch management, a major issue remains how to secure their systems from internal and external threats, Kaplan said.

Oracle's attitude towards customers changed when President Charles Phillips joined the company in 2003 from Morgan Stanley, Kaplan said. "Charles set a tone that customers are to be listened to and appreciated," Jedlinski added.

In the wake of Oracle's buying spree, users will be keen to get a first-hand look at the technologies Oracle has recently acquired, according to Kaplan, such as the InnoDB and Sleepycat databases and the identity management technologies from the purchases of Thor and OctetSpring. While users can see the strategy behind Oracle's acquisitions, they're interested to understand the new technologies and how the company plans to incorporate them into its product portfolio, he said.

Jedlinski appreciates Oracle's acquisition strategy, describing it as symptomatic of a company that's moving ahead and not standing still.

Since its multibillion dollar purchases of PeopleSoft and Siebel, Oracle has kept to its promise of supporting users running those applications on third-party databases, according to Kaplan. "They're looking to keep things open," he said. Users are keen to find out whether Oracle will continue that support, according to Quest's Matelski.

Given that Oracle has committed to bringing out new releases of all its applications, users are seeking a better understanding of the features and functionality contained in the upcoming versions, Matelski wrote in an e-mail interview. They also need to know how the new releases relate to the company's Fusion strategy to combine its disparate enterprise applications into a single suite.

"No customer wants to do multiple upgrades if they do not have to," he wrote. "Quite honestly, from what I am hearing, all customers are anxiously awaiting more information about how Fusion will benefit them, and are looking to determine what infrastructure and business process changes they may need to make to get to Fusion."

Phillips is expected to focus on the Fusion strategy in his keynote speech on Tuesday.

Previously, IOUG, OAUG and Quest had held separate conferences. Having a single event has enabled them to attract over a dozen high-profile Oracle executives as well as several hundred third-party vendors. They've already decided to again hold a combined event, Collaborate 07, in Las Vegas next year April 15-19.

Cross-pollination of information between the three groups is proving beneficial, according to Kaplan, but there are no indications of a merger of the groups. "We work very well together," he said. "There's very good give and take from each organization."

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