Will Oracle Offer Red Hat Support

Some recent comments made by Larry Ellison have sparked speculation that Oracle may soon offer Red Hat support. From the article:
A claim that Ellison made repeatedly throughout the briefing was that the software giant is targeting Red Hat support: specifically providing support services for Red Hat Linux users.
The reason for this move, which Oracle executives later declined to provide any real detail on, is that Red Hat isn’t doing a good enough job of providing that support itself, Ellison said.
“Red Hat is too small and does not do a very good job of supporting them [customers],” he said.
“What Red Hat does is every time to fix a bug you have to upgrade the operating system. They don’t support old versions but just bug fixes… That is not proper enterprise support and I think our customers are demanding that and I think you will see that coming from us.”

It should be noted that in RHEL, when a bug fix is made it is back-ported to the existing version of the package, as opposed to Fedora which updates to the latest version that includes the bug fix. My guess is that this may be in retaliation to the Red Hat Jboss acquisition. Historically, Red Hat and Oracle have been very closer partners (in fact, early Oracle support is one of the things that really broke Red Hat into the enterprise), but the relationship has been on shaky ground now that Red Hat is a direct competitor in the middleware space.
To be sure, there are a couple options here. Oracle could just acquire a Linux company. Red Hat seems unlikely to me, which would leave Novell as the primary target. They could also simply put together their own distribution. While it would probably get decent penetration in the Oracle market, I can't see it gaining too much traction in the general market. They could also simply provide support for Red Hat installs. For the long term, that really seems unlikely to me though. Larry is too much of a control freak for them to just support a product they have no real control over. What I could see happening is a bit of a mix of the two, where Oracle offers a possibly Red Hat-based clone along the lines of CentOS that they fully support for all Oracle installations. This would allow them to push Red Hat out of the Oracle market, while not having to worry about the general Linux market. Other companies have done this in the past, Checkpoint comes to mind, and Oracle certainly has the resources to make it happen.
So the question becomes, would that be bad for Red Hat. I'd say, arguably no. Red Hat knows they can't possibly support every Linux install out there. What's more – they don't want to. The next generation will not include a Microsoft-like monopoly and Red Hat knows that. They plan to profit significantly just by being the dominant player, without having to be the only player. That means anything that's good for Linux, in the end is potentially good for Red Hat. More companies adopting Linux because Oracle supports their version for all DB installs, means more people get exposed to the advantages of Linux. In the end, that means more potential sales for Red Hat. The Linux and Open Source model is once again being validated.
–jeremy
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