Sun hardware shops must get their support contracts in order with Oracle if if they want to continue getting patches, fixes and support for their Sun hardware, according to notice posted to Oracle's support site two weeks ago.
The money quote:
"To receive technical support ..., all equipment, including components, options and spare parts … must be a covered hardware system. Covered hardware system means all Oracle/Sun hardware for which you have (i) paid the technical support fee, and (ii) provided to Oracle the serial number and/or other identification and entitlement information as requested by Oracle and in the manner specified by Oracle. Components, options and spare parts purchased separately from your original equipment purchase are included in the definition of hardware system. Oracle will make commercially reasonable efforts to provide the hardware support service. (Note: These offerings are not available for non-Oracle/Sun hardware)."
And it's not just hardware. Solaris downloads will not be supported after 90 days. As blogger Ben Rockwood pointed out the relevant text:
"Please remember, your right to use Solaris acquired as a download is limited to a trial of 90 days, unless you acquire a service contract for the downloaded Software."
So far, OpenSolaris appears unaffected by these changes.
Sun watchers said all of this is quite a change for Sun's customers many of which had figured out a way to avoid paying top dollar for Sun support. One long-time Sun integrator said he understands, on the one hand, why Oracle is bringing down the hammer.
"Sun's service pricing model was horrible. Customers historically put some systems on support but not all so they could save money. You could have 100 systems running Solaris but have 25 on support," he noted.
In his view, Oracles approach looks to be easier to administer but (and this is a big, bad but), customers may not care how easy it is if their support costs go through the roof.
"This sudden about-face in which Oracle wants a support contract for essentially any use of Solaris will make me think long and hard about deploying Solaris instead of Linux or another free OS in the future," said Bill Bradford, a senior systems administrator for an energy services firm in Houston, Texas.
Bradford runs the Sun user help site, SunHELP.org and said "Sun's new owners aren't just shooting themselves in the foot, they've blown the limb off at the ankle. Unless we see some assurance from someone at Oracle soon with definitive answers about free security patch access and non-commercial licensing, they stand to lose a huge amount of their customer base."
Oracle clearly wants to weed out third-party support organizations in Oracle shops. Those third parties offered big-time discounts—up to 40% or more vs. Sun support. Anyone who doubted that need only look at Oracle's litigation against SAP, over its TomorrowNow support division, or Rimini Street , to see that Oracle wants the service revenue generated by Oracle products all to itself.
This move diminishes the value of third party service providers, and could foreclose more cost-effective support options to customers, according to another Sun customer.
A common reaction to this news was that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is wasting no time getting as much of the $7.4 million he paid for Sun back into Oracle's coffers.
SearchDataCenter.com Executive Editor Matt Stansberry contributed to this story.