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If you want to know what Oracle's roadmap is for Linux, just watch what Red Hat does. Oracle Enterprise Linux is just a clone of RHEL. Getting a sense of what Oracle really has planned for Solaris - aside from deploying it in SMP systems and clusters - is going to take some time. Oracle's plans for virtualization and system management are more clear.

For now, it seems, Solaris shops are going to have to made-do with praise from Oracle executives, starting at the top, with chief executive office Larry Ellison. That praise for Solaris is not going to fall on deaf ears. Those will be welcome words to the more than 50,000 customers worldwide, by Oracle's count, who deploy Solaris to run mission-critical and other applications.

But don't get the wrong idea. Oracle loves Linux too, and Edward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect and the person in charge of all of Oracle's open source products, said that Oracle now has more than 4,000 shops paying for support on its Enterprise Linux clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Oracle, Screven said, will invest in and support both Solaris and Linux.

"We have no problem having both Linux and Solaris," explained Ellison in a question and answer session after the five hours of presentations from the Oracle troops involved with the integration of Sun. "They are different products for different customers and different markets."

And despite how IBM has ascended the Unix market in the past decade, knocking Sun from its perch, Ellison remains optimistic about Unix in general and downright cheerful about Solaris in particular.

"Unix still does well in the high-end," Ellison said, adding that while Solaris can run in a single server or workstation, what Oracle was really interested in was clusters of systems and big iron boxes. And despite the warmth that other Oracle executives gave to big SMP boxes from Fujitsu, which Oracle now resells, Oracle has expressed disdain for more than a decade for such machines in favor of clusters - right up to the point where it sends the invoice to a big Unix SMP or mainframe shop, that is.

Ellison said he was keen on seeing Solaris running on clusters, presumably machines like the Exadata 2 (which runs on x64 processors and uses Linux, not Solaris, as its operating system).

"I think Solaris is way far advanced, and I love Linux, but I think Solaris is a more capable operating system," Ellison said. "I think Solaris' home is in the high-end of the data center, and it will be a long time before Linux catches up. I don't think the high end is in trouble at all."

No one at the Oracle-Sun event talked about the schedule for Solaris 11, which was expected around the middle of this year as the Oracle dance Sun was beginning last April. No one talked about the OpenSolaris project, which is the open source development release for Solaris from whence the new commercial releases eventually spring forth.

Screven did say that the majority of Oracle customers run on Solaris or Linux and that Sun would optimize both operating systems for the "full stack from applications to disk" and deliver "world class" support for the lowest TCO for both Solaris and Linux.

It will be interesting to see how Oracle deals with Solaris on x64 iron, both its own as well as x64 boxes made by its systems rivals. Back in the dot-com bust, when Sun was late getting its UltraSparc-III processors to market and IBM was just revving up its Power product line, with ridiculously steep discounts, Sun decided not to support Solaris 9 on x86 machines and tried to push Sparc shops toward more expensive Sparc iron.

This left the door wide open for IBM, particularly with HP coping with issues with its Itanium product line at the time. With Intel and Advanced Micro Devices gearing up some pretty impressive iron, Oracle might be tempted to pull back on x64 support a little to emphasis its Sparc platforms. It is hard to believe this will work any better now that it did almost a decade ago.

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