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Red Hat is piling the open-source pressure on Linux predator Oracle with a project targeting the giant's massive application server business.

The Linux outfit has announced JBoss Migration Assistance (MASS) in conjunction with JBoss solution partners, a community open-source project to build tools and resources to help customers dump Oracle and the Oracle-owned BEA WebLogic as well as IBM's WebSphere for JBoss. Tools from the project will find their way into software from JBoss and Red Hat's related partners.

Craig Muzilla, Red Hat's middleware vice president told The Register the first MASS effort would target application servers, with the first output from MASS expected in a "couple" of months.

The goal is to produce tools that migrate code and configuration files, which are different in each application server despite the Java promise of "write once, run anywhere."

Red Hat clearly hopes tools will grease the path for customers dissatisfied with paying through the nose for Oracle software and who feel they are being held captive.

The project will not be welcomed by Oracle, which spent $8.5bn to buy application server customers through its purchase of BEA Systems in 2008 and has gone to great lengths through marketing, sales, and support events to make BEA's WebLogic customers feel loved and listened to.

Muzilla said customers are moving "aggressively" to Red Hat from Oracle for three reasons. He called Oracle pricing "a big factor," with developers looking for more flexibility.

Ominously for Oracle given its BEA investment and subsequent lovemaking efforts, he added: "Organizations that had a close relationship with BEA are not having a close relationship with Oracle."

Red Hat is the latest open-source company leveraging the ever-present levels of discontent among Oracle users towards a giant that channels their licensing fees into above-average executive packages, which help fund its chief executive's alpha-male pastimes (here and here).

Open-source Java clustering specialist Terracotta told us that major customers are choosing Terracotta instead of Oracle's Real Application Clusters (RAC) for large-scale scaling. They are also cutting back on new or existing licenses of Oracle's core database product simply because Oracle is too expensive for new or continued operations.

Chief executive Amit Pandey said customers are also becoming tired of playing hardball with Oracle's sales reps simply to extract one of its famed licensing discounts.

In some cases where Terracotta's beaten Oracle in customer accounts, Pandey said Oracle reps have whipped out Oracle's Tangosol in-memory data grid as way to keep customers, even thought Tangosol staff have actually left Oracle and even joined Terracotta.

"One argument we had from someone who moved away from Oracle was he was fed up that the Oracle rep wouldn't drop prices to get close to us [Terracotta]," Pandey said.

"They had to get away from the hostage situation they were in. They felt this was a good time to flex their muscle."

Pandey cited a media customer that turned to Terracotta following an Oracle quote for RAC and a multi-billion-dollar online poker site that's using Terracotta to get off Oracle. Terracotta will help the poker site reduce its number of instances of Oracle, cutting its software bill.

Terracotta is being adopted by companies hitting capacity constraints in their databases who don't want to spring for another full database license. Terracotta lets you access frequently needed data for applications without bolting on another database.

Terracotta claims it can save customers between 50 and 80 per cent on the licensing of a new database by using its own software. The company, which open sourced its code a year ago, offers a free and charged-for but supported version of its scaling software.

Like Terracotta, Red Hat is challenging Oracle for its position in middleware infrastructure.

Muzilla claimed JBoss is being used "strategically" across organizations, instead of in isolated pockets. Also, Red Hat Linux is opening the door to JBoss - a fifth of Red Hat's largest sales include JBoss, with a four-fold increase in customers using JBoss across the enterprise.

If Muzilla's figures are to be believed, then it shows that rather than Oracle challenging Red Hat on Linux (as was expected when it announced Oracle Unbreakable Linux in 2006), Red Hat has challenged Oracle on middleware, ridding on the back of Red Hat Linux.

The goal is to displace Oracle and have JBoss adopted as companies' middleware reference implementations, Muzilla said.

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