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Oracle's OpenSolaris move sparks outrage in Sun shops

Holding back updates to OpenSolaris may hurt Oracle's software and hardware business, data center pros warn. Some shops are already in the process of switching vendors.

Sun shops that use OpenSolaris are not pleased with the way Oracle is changing the frequency and manner of code updates to that operating system.

According to a memo from the Solaris team leaked to the Web, Oracle "will distribute updates to approved CDDL or other open source-licensed code following full releases of our enterprise Solaris operating system. In this manner, new technology innovations will show up in our releases before anywhere else. We will no longer distribute source code for the entirety of the Solaris operating system in real-time while it is developed, on a nightly basis."

The operations manager for a large Sun shop on the West Coast said Oracle's handling of OpenSolaris, along with its new support mandates, have pushed his company off Sparc/Solaris.

This company has used OpenSolaris and ZFS for all of its tier-two storage because the combo offers excellent cloning and writable snapshot capabilities. Now, however, it will move all of its storage going forward to NetApp, the manager said.

And, future hardware purchases will move to Hewlett-Packard, not Oracle, he added.

Oracle doesn't get it. Their view is, 'this is the way it is -- take it or leave it.' Well, some customers are taking it, but most are leaving it.
One Boston-area IT consultant with a Sun background,

Oracle has not officially confirmed the validity of the memo, but Oracle employee postings indicate it is legitimate. The posted memo was signed by Mike Shapiro, a distinguished engineer in Solaris kernel development; Bill Nesheim, vice president of Solaris platform engineering; and Chris Armes, senior engineering director.

The promotion of commercial Solaris is understandable as Oracle seeks to monetize the technology it bought along with Sun Microsystems last January. The bulk of the Solaris R&D effort will flow to the commercial (i.e. paid) release of the operating system. Last week, Oracle executive vice president John Fowler promised the new Solaris 11 for a debut next year.

It appears that OpenSolaris will morph into what Oracle will call Solaris 11 Express for which developers can get a right-to-use (RTU) license.

"All of Oracle's efforts on binary distributions of Solaris technology will be focused on Solaris 11. We will not release any other binary distributions such as nightly or bi-weekly builds of Solaris binaries or an OpenSolaris 2010.5 or later distribution," according to the memo.

Some OpenSolaris proponents, given Oracle's months of silence on the topic, saw the writing on the wall. Earlier this month, Garrett D'Amore, a former Sun software engineer, launched Illumos, a derivative of OpenSolaris.

For several erstwhile Sun partisans like the West Coast operations manager, the OpenSolaris decision, along with Oracle's decision to sue Google over Android's use of Java, paint a very dismal picture of how Oracle deals with open source-oriented software.

Colin Dean, co-founder of, a personal profile website, was particularly irked about the Java suit. Oracle's actions give users reason to worry about all of Oracle's open source offerings, which include MySQL as well as Java and OpenSolaris.

A Boston-area IT consultant with a strong Sun practice said customers are very wary of Oracle's hardware and software plans going forward and equally concerned by what they see as heavy-handed sales and support tactics.

"Oracle doesn't get it. Their view is, 'this is the way it is -- take it or leave it.' Well, some customers are taking it, but most are leaving it," the consultant noted.

A Washington D.C.-area integrator said his Sun accounts are in turmoil.

"A lot of these Oracle moves reinforce their fears about Oracle. All the experiences they've had with Oracle in other business transactions, around database licensing costs, Oracle's audits of customers, are all being reinforced by these changes," he said.

Savvy competitors are not letting the opportunity go to waste: they're stoking the FUD around Oracle's plans and doing their best to take advantage of it.

"IBM is telling resellers who handle both IBM and Sun that IBM will support Sun hardware down the road, and also that IBM will let the reseller participate in support, renewals and maintenance," the consultant said. That Sun hardware renewal business is something Oracle will not share with channel partners going forward.

-- Senior News Writer Bridget Botelho contributed to this report.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Barbara Darrow, Senior News Director at, or follow us on Twitter.

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