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Canonical, Oracle go two on one against Red Hat in OpenStack bout

Each to support its own Linux on other's cloud stack

While Red Hat is trumpeting that it wants to be the "undisputed" OpenStack market leader, its rivals Canonical and Oracle have teamed up to ensure that each's Linux distro plays well with the other's OpenStack implementation, even though they also compete.

"As we have said in the past, while Oracle provides solutions for OpenStack, Linux, and virtualization, Oracle also wants to help ensure that customers can receive the same world class support when running Oracle Linux on virtually any platform," the database giant said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Under the new partnership, customers who install Oracle Linux as a guest OS on Canonical's Ubuntu OpenStack distro will be able to receive OS support from Oracle. Likewise, Canonical will support Ubuntu as a guest OS on Oracle OpenStack.

In addition, Canonical says it will test Oracle Linux as a guest OS in its OpenStack Interoperability Lab, where it partners with a variety of IT vendors to ensure that their products run smoothly on Ubuntu clouds.

Take that, Red Hat

The move could be seen as a potshot at Red Hat, which is eager to graduate from being an enterprise Linux vendor to a full-scale infrastructure supplier. In a blog post on Monday, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst said the "cloud winners will be chosen soon" and that he intended to win the "prize."

But Red Hat has been criticized for its seeming reluctance to support its OS running on other vendors' OpenStack distributions. While it maintains that it's not necessary to run its own version of OpenStack to buy a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) support subscription, it hasn't taken any steps to ensure that RHEL runs well on rival versions, either, for which it shows little love.

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux and our OpenStack offerings are developed, built, integrated, and supported together to create Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform. This requires tight feature and fix alignment between the Kernel, the hypervisor, and OpenStack services," Red Hat executive veep Paul Cormier wrote in May, implying that customers would really be better off with an all-Shadowman solution.

Oracle Linux, meanwhile, is a RHEL workalike, built from code lifted from Shadowman's own source code trees. It's so compatible – or some would say derivative – that Oracle's binary packages will even run unmodified on RHEL servers. As a result, any admin accustomed to RHEL should feel equally at home on Oracle's distro. And unlike Red Hat, Oracle says it is "committed to supplying interoperability" with Ubuntu OpenStack.

That's significant, because Ubuntu is generally thought to be the leading Linux distro for OpenStack deployments. To hear Canonical tell it, as many as 55 per cent of all OpenStack clouds are built on Ubuntu, while RHEL trails behind its own community-driven free clone, CentOS.

This isn't the first such partnership Canonical has struck, either. In June, it inked a similar deal with OpenStack consultancy Mirantis – a company that Red Hat management had reportedly instructed its sales staff to "not engage them jointly with any customers or leverage their services for delivery of our products," according to the WSJ.

"Canonical is committed to working with partners to strengthen OpenStack Cloud adoption and customer experience by working together," Canonical's John Zannos wrote at the time. "A strong and healthy ecosystem is the best way to demonstrate to the marketplace that OpenStack is a cloud platform you can build your production environment on." ®

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