Oracle adds systems management perq to Linux OS support

As a new perquisite for customers of its Linux OS or database support, Oracle today announced free downloads and support for Oracle Clusterware, a systems management package for both Red Hat Linux and Oracle's "Unbreakable Linux."

Up to now, Clusterware has only been offered to users of Oracle's RAC (Real Applications Clusters) database management solution, said Monica Kumar, Oracle's senior director for Linux and open source product marketing, in a briefing for BetaNews.

"But Clusterware can really be used to manage any type of server cluster, not just database servers," maintained Randy Hietter, Oracle's director of product management for server technologies.


Essentially, Clusterware is designed for grouping together individual servers so they can work together as a single system, or "cluster," and for protecting Oracle and third-party applications running within a cluster.

"Clusterware is the perfect choice for running servers as a single high availability [HA] cluster. It watches what's going on in both the cluster and the applications," Hietter told BetaNews.

Under Oracle's new deal, customers signed on for Unbreakable Linux Support at Basic and Premium support levels can now download and use Clusterware with no aditional license or support costs.

As some analysts see it, Oracle's anouncement today could spur more interest in Oracle's support programs for the Linux OS and Oracle databases and applications running on Linux.

"Since coming out with Unbreakable Linux, Oracle has faced some difficulties with getting its product and support offering out into the market. Many customers have preferred to work with more established Linux players," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told BetaNews.

"The fact that Clusterware is also available for Red Hat's distribution should help, since Red Hat has the largest Linux market share in the US. If Oracle decides to expand a lot in Europe, they might want to make [Clusterware] available on [Novell's] SuSE Linux, too," the analyst suggested.

But Oracle's Kumar contends that the list of Unbreakable Linux support customers -- now totalling more than 1,500 organizations -- has only continued to grow longer since Oracle's rollout of its own Linux software distribution and support program just over a year ago.

Oracle's support service, which also includes testing and indemnification, is priced significantly lower than competing Linux support offerings, according to Kumar.

Unbreakable Linux customers mentioned or Oracle's Web site include Yahoo, Timex, Dell, Diebold, Cox, IHOP, Real, Dunkin' Brands, Abercrombie & Fitch, Stanford University, and Mitsubishi Corp.

Oracle's Hietter contended that Clusterware is "the first HA cluster management software for Linux servers from a major systems vendor."

Meanwhile, Oracle's Clusterware is part of a Linux cluster management software market which is still highly fragmented, containing a variety of commercial and open source products geared to different systems management issues and Linux platforms. Active open source projects around cluster management include, for example, OpenSSI, Gluster, Kerrighed, and Boinc. Another major open source cluster management project, openMosix, recently disbanded.

On the commercial side, cluster management software is available from Red Hat and Hewlett-Packard. Also, IBM recently expanded its Cluster Systems Management (CSM) software for Linux from the xSeries PC and AIX 5L platforms to pSeries servers.

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