LINUXWORLD SF - Oracle enhances Linux pretesting program

Oracle is to update its Linux systems recommendation program, Validated Configurations, Tuesday with new pretested stacks and additional partners.

Oracle is doubling the number of Linux systems pretested by its Validated Configurations program.

The database and applications vendor has also added three partners to the Linux systems recommendation program, it announced Tuesday at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco..

Oracle unveiled Validated Configurations in June to let users know which Linux systems configurations it had pretested. The idea was to provide an additional comfort level for Oracle customers looking to run particular combinations or stacks of software, hardware, storage and networking technologies on the open-source operating system.

At the same time, Oracle may benefit from a decline in support calls, many of which often concern misconfigured systems, said Wim Coekaerts, Oracle's senior director of Linux engineering.

The vendor lists the pretested system configurations on its Oracle Technology Network (OTN) Web site where customers can download documents containing data on each system's setup such as the version numbers and settings of the different technology pieces.

"This is not just a one-time publication," Coekaerts said. "We have to keep refreshing the data." Customers are also keen for Oracle to provide additional information on how the vendor defines the components of each configuration, he added.

In coming up with the first five pretested configurations in June, Oracle partnered with 12 companies including Novell and Red Hat, the two leading Linux distribution players. The other partners were chip makers Advanced Micro Devices and Intel server and storage vendors Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Network Appliance and Sun Microsystems and host bus adapter providers Emulex and QLogic.

"We had servers and storage, we needed the middle piece that connects the two," Coekaerts said, announcing new Validated Configurations partners Cisco Systems and Brocade Communications Systems. Both companies provide SAN (storage area network) switches, with Brocade last week bidding to acquire its main competitor McData for US$713 million as a way to bulk up against Cisco.

The third new partner is somewhat surprising, storage array startup Pillar Data Systems.

Pillar has only been shipping its Axiom hardware and software combo since June 2005 but has grown rapidly to notch up more than 100 customers. It was that growth and Pillar's eagerness to become involved in Validated Configurations that led to its early inclusion in the program, according to Coekaerts, rather than the identity of the startup's prime investor. Pillar is financed by Tako Ventures, the venture capital arm of Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison.

Oracle is being very careful about growing Validated Configurations slowly, Coekaerts said, given the level of engineering work the pretesting requires between the vendor and potential partners. He foresees Oracle adding partners at a rate of about one per month. The company is also getting close to securing its first partner for the program in Asia, he added.

Looking ahead, Oracle is eager to open up the systems tests to customers as well as its partners, Coekaerts said. However, the vendor will first need to resolve some issues relating to nondisclosure agreements with its Validated Configurations partners and remove those restrictions, he added.

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