As a part of Oracle Open World 2010, Oracle made some interesting announcements that is stirring up the tech circles. The first announcement is Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, which are cloudwashed high end Non Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) servers. This is basically Oracle’s attempt to swim with the cloud computing wave. After trying to dismiss cloud computing as a non starter, Oracle is now trying to spin their high end server with some virtualization and management layer as cloud. Probably, they realize that the cloud wave has just washed over them and they are trying to reposition themselves to be part of the cloud era. Anyhow, this article is not about the Exalogic Elastic Cloud but about one of the two guest operating systems supported on that server.
After riding the coattails of Red Hat for a long time, Oracle has taken the first step towards a clean break from Red Hat.
- They have renamed Oracle Enterprise Linux into Oracle Linux.
- They announced the availability of Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel
The repositioning of Oracle Enterprise Linux to Oracle Linux is more of a strategic move which could help them push the future versions as their own distributions. From what I hear, Oracle Linux is different from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux codebase.
The more interesting part of the announcement is the new kernel announced by Oracle. The Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is supposed to be a fast, modern, reliable Linux kernel that is optimized for Oracle software and hardware. This kernel is taken from 2.6.32 mainline kernel (See Kernel.org for more information on the mainline kernels) and optimized to work on Oracle hardware. Oracle claims a 70% performance gain over a Red Hat compatible kernel in OLTP performance tests. I usually don’t believe the claims made by vendors. In most cases, it is like the fuel efficiency claims by car manufacturers. However, since it is a kernel developed by Oracle engineers, who must have tested it extensively on Oracle hardware, it will perform better than Red Hat kernels and even vanilla kernels on their hardware.
The other features of the kernel includes
- A supposedly 200% speedup of Infiniband messaging and 137% faster solid state disk access. Since Oracle’s Exalogic Elastic Cloud hardware uses flash based memory, it is not surprising that the kernel is optimized for faster SSD access
- Optimized for large NUMA servers (again refer to their need for Exalogic Elastic Cloud performance) with better power management and energy efficiency improvements
- Supports data integrity extensions which stops corrupt data from getting written to the storage
- Fault tolerance improvements
- Low overhead performance counters
- More importantly, it is optimized for Oracle. It means Oracle customers using Oracle hardware, Oracle databases, Oracle middleware will get superior performance when they use Oracle Linux with Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel. In short, pay Oracle money all through the stack and you will end up getting a better performance
Oracle coming out with their own kernel is not surprising. With too much at stake for their business, it is only natural to have a kernel that offers the best possible performance of their products. As long as they release the source code, they are not in violation of any legalities. To some extent, they are not even violating the Open Source spirit with this move (at least, at this moment).
The only message from this announcement is that Oracle is not only preparing itself for a clean break with Red Hat, it is also planning to hit hard on Red Hat. Anyone who watched Larry Ellison’s Keynote would have easily noticed the subtle message he sent to Oracle’s customers and the marketplace. His message was that the customers can use Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems and Oracle will support it but if they want the best possible performance, they should pay Oracle instead of Red Hat and run on Oracle Linux. The message was very clear and it clearly points to where Oracle is heading on their Red Hat strategy. I am pretty sure this is Oracle’s signal that they want Red Hat out and they will go to any extent to push them out of the market.
I will be interested in watching the reaction of Oracle customers and see how they react to this announcement. It will also be interesting to see if Oracle elbows their customers to use Oracle Linux instead of Red Hat Linux. I will also be keen to see Red Hat’s reaction in the coming months.
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- Oracle spins own Linux for mega hardware (go.theregister.com)
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- Day One: Oracle OpenWorld 2010 (enterpriseirregulars.com)
- Larry Ellison Rips Red Hat Linux, But Stays Committed (informationweek.com)
- The new Oracle: Bigger and badder than ever (Slate)