The inscrutable plan of Oracle for Solaris 10 on x64 servers became more... scrutable this morning. The company announced that Dell and Hewlett-Packard would be certifying and reselling Oracle's Solaris and Enterprise Linux operating systems, as well as its Oracle VM implementation of the Xen hypervisor on their respective PowerEdge and ProLiant servers.
In the story from earlier this week, when IBM announced it would stop selling Solaris 10 on its System x rack and BladeCenter blade servers, a few comments popped up referring to Joerg Moellenkamp's c0t0d0s0.org blog posting asserting that HP had renegotiated its Solaris distro contract.
The Reg contacted Oracle for confirmation of this and got stonewalled, as usual, and after three days all that HP would say is: "HP is committed to helping customers manage and transform their IT environments and we are always evaluating partner relationships to support this. We will share more detail regarding Solaris support in the future."
Well, in about 16 hours, as it turned out.
So Oracle's yanking of HP's Solaris 10 OEM contract back in May or early June (the precise time was never made clear) was less about HP being in the Unix business, competing with Solaris, and more about HP peddling the whole Oracle operating system and virtualization stack. Something Oracle clearly wanted HP to do, and something that HP must have balked at or it wouldn't have gotten its OEM deal yanked in the first place.
With Oracle's database driving a large percentage of midrange and high-end server sales and Solaris perhaps driving more than a few ProLiant sales, HP can only push Oracle so far.
If you read the text of the Oracle announcement carefully, it says Dell and HP will certify and resell Oracle's Solaris, Enterprise Linux, and VM as well as Oracle's premier support contracts for these products. It is not clear how the support money is carved up, and who is paying for the certification. Dell, HP, and Oracle representatives were not available for comment as El Reg went to press. Presumably the terms of the OEM contracts are different - and likely to favor Oracle - or the Sun contracts would have still be in effect.
The current Dell PowerEdge operating system support matrix shows Dell supporting Solaris 10 Update 6 and 7 on a mix of the currently shipping Xeon and Opteron rack servers, with Update 8 only being available on the PowerEdge R910. Dell also has Solaris 10 Update 7 certified on its M605, M610, M710, M805, and M905 blade servers, with Update 6 on the three Opteron-based machines and Update 8 on none of the blades. No Dell tower servers have ever been certified to run Solaris 10 as far as we know, and but it could happen if customers ask for it.
Over at HP, the ProLiant operating system compatibility matrix has Solaris 10 Updates 6, 7, and 8 on ProLiant G5, G6, and G7 rack (DL) and blade (BL) servers and two tower boxes as well. Older Solaris 10 releases going back to 2006 and 2007 have a smattering of support, too, on older iron.
Oracle Enterprise Linux 5 has somewhat thinner support, as you can see here. HP certified OEL on selected ProLiants back in 2006, and gradually expanded support through 2007.
Now that HP and Dell are certifying and supporting Solaris 10 on their respective x64 platforms, that portion of the Solaris customer base that was running on x64 iron outside of the Sun/Oracle fold will no doubt let out a sigh of relief.
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, IBM does to renegotiate a Solaris certification and OEM contract with Oracle. ®