So what are we to make of Oracle's decision to allow HP to resell Solaris and Enterprise Linux operating systems and VM virtual platform?
The news comes barely a month after Oracle ended HP's OEM contract for Solaris 10, leaving many HP Unix customers wondering how they are going to manage support for their mixed environments.
While on the surface it may seem like Oracle is doing the software version of the Hokie Pokie (You put your OS in, you take your OS out...), it's clear that the company has seen the wisdom of broad hardware support even if it tends to cut in on the margins of a very tight-margin product category.
For its part, Oracle couches the move as a commitment to greater openness, noting that both HP and Dell will be able to certify and resell the three systems on the x86 machines, namely the ProLiant and PowerEdge lines. That means customers will have access to Oracle's Premier Support services and any and all updates and innovations that may come down the pike.
This largesse only applies to companies that don't have their own Unix products, of course. Earlier this week, Oracle announced that it will forbid companies from selling their x64 hardware with Solaris 10 on board -- a direct blow to IBM. That pushes the system away from the System x and BladeCenter servers, only a fraction of which, in all likelihood, are actually using Solaris at this point. Still, the distinction points up to the fact that Oracle is much more concerned with rival Unix releases than with rival hardware platforms.
So how is this all going to play out in terms of actual product shipments? According to the The Register, expect to see Dell coming out with Solaris 10, Updates 6 and 7, on a range of Xeon and Opteron machines, while Update 8 is being reserved for the PowerEdge R910. Solaris in one form or another is also likely on the M605, 610, 710, 805 and 905 blades, as well as several Opteron models. At HP, Updates 6, 7 and 8 will show up on the G5, G6 and G7 rack systems.
As for Oracle, it's nice to see it has developed a fondness for "openness," although there are some who will no doubt take issue with the use of that term. Still, anything that helps enterprises avoid vendor lock-in is welcome, and for those who are already dependent on Oracle software and non-Oracle hardware, cooperation among the big vendors is nothing to take for granted.