Oracle and Unbreakable Linux

Looks like some of the recent rumors were at least partially true. While Oracle is not going to release their own distribution, they are going to be offering support for RHEL. From the article:
I'm here at Oracle “Open” World, and am a bit shocked by what I'm seeing. Oracle, longtime partner to Red Hat, is rolling out the next phase of its Unbreakable Linux program, designed to kill Red Hat and Novell (whatever Larry Ellison might say to the contrary). With partners like Oracle, who needs competitors?
Now, Oracle will say that it's offering a level of support unmatched by Red Hat, and it will also say that this program is not designed to kill Red Hat. Maybe. I talked with some Oracle employees, and they were convincing that some Oracle customers have complained about Red Hat's service/support.

It's interesting to see a company like Oracle pitching their solution as a low cost one, as they're typically one of the most expensive solutions available. This move does seem to further validate that Open Source is good for the customer. They get their choice of support with much lower migration pain than with proprietary solutions. Whether Oracle is able to offer better support for a Red Hat product than Red Hat can remains to be seen, but this move should have a definitive impact on the market (even if just from a Wall Street perspective). First, in the short term I'd actually expect RHEL sales to go up. It should also impact how Red Hat does business. I have heard an increased amount of grumbling about Red Hat support recently, hopefully this will serve as a wakeup call. Red Hat also seems to be losing focus a little bit. Fedora is still struggling in my opinion and I don't think it's getting the uptake they expected. I'd also expect this move by Oracle to impact pricing. On the low end I think $799 per year is indeed too expensive for a minimally supported Linux install. We'll see if that price comes down at all with the release of RHEL 5. Also, Oracle is offering maintenance without support (ie you just get patches). This is something a lot of clients want and something Red Hat hasn't offered since RHL. I'd like to see that product return to the RHAT suite. Something along the lines of $75/year seems fair. Note that Oracle is also offering a “free binary” release, which is something I don't expect Red Hat to follow on (nor do I think they need to).
Red Hat has responded to this with an Unfakeable Linux jab. In the end, the Enterprise Linux space is heating up, which should be good for Linux itself and good for users. I suspect in the short and mid term it will also be good for RHAT. The one loser here could be Novell, who has struggled on executing what I think is a solid plan. How much longer they can afford to do that remains to be seen.
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