After Larry Ellison's Sucker Punch, Red Hat Swings Back
Stung by Larry Ellison's pointed public criticism of its unacceptably slow incorporation of bug fixes and enhancements, Red Hat has lashed back at the Oracle CEO by saying Red Hat's "commitment is deep and lasting, not fireworks and hyperbole followed by a huge invoice and vendor lock-in." Oh, can't we all just get along?!?
Stung by Larry Ellison's pointed public criticism of its unacceptably slow incorporation of bug fixes and enhancements, Red Hat has lashed back at the Oracle CEO by saying Red Hat's "commitment is deep and lasting, not fireworks and hyperbole followed by a huge invoice and vendor lock-in." Oh, can't we all just get along?!?In his Sunday night keynote at Oracle Open World, Ellison at one point described why he felt the need to introduce his own Linux kernel, called the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, and his rationale was a blunt rebuke of Red Hat's responsiveness and commitment to customers and partners.
"We are not giving up on Red Hat Linux," Ellison said. "We spend a lot of time finding and fixing bugs in Red Hat Linux, and we have no problem with that-we do that with lots of operating systems.
"But sometimes when we fix a Red Hat Linux bug, Red Hat can take a very long time before making the fix. We'd fix the bug for our customers, and we'd send the bug off to Red Hat for them to fix, and sometimes the fix would be made very quickly but sometimes not," Ellison said.
Those delays, Ellison said, weren't just specific to Oracle: it would often take Red Hat months or even years to incorporate bug fixes or enhancements from the overall Linux community, he said.
"Red Hat's also been slow in taking up the enhancements from the overall Red Hat community and they were sometimes four years behind the times for the latest community enhancements," Ellison said.
"And that is simply a huge problem for us as we build these high-end Linux machines like Exadata and Exalogic, and we just can't afford to be four years behind on software."
So Red Hat decided to counterpunch in a blog post in which Red Hat, while not specifically mentioning Ellison or Oracle by name, was clearly criticizing Oracle for looking to lock in customers, limit their choices, and then charge them exorbitant fees and prices.
In a long and rather windy listing of all its attributes, Red Hat offered the following swipes at Oracle and Ellison's claims:
"Of course, with this unique open source operating model and leadership position comes competitors, challenging us and wanting to draw from our success. In response, we believe that our unique value and truly open position continues to be the sound choice for enterprise customers who seek lasting value in their IT investments-especially when compared to competitors who selectively open their offerings while seeking to lock in their customers."
"Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers receive technology updates and upgrades every six months on average."
"Fixes for security issues or critical bugs are provided as soon as they are available - to date more than 98 percent of all security fixes in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 have been delivered within one calendar day of being identified."
Red Hat Enterprise Linux "is created with our customers and partners, for our customers and partners. Our commitment is deep and lasting, not fireworks and hyperbole followed by a huge invoice and vendor lock-in."
I don't blame Red Hat for wanting to step forward and refute any claims it felt were inaccurate or misleading, particularly given the big stage Oracle Open World afforded to Ellison. But I question Red Hat's decision to issue this vague and imprecise statement-if what Ellison said was wrong and was worthy of correction, then Red Hat should come right out and say that, naming names and all.
If Red Hat wants to compete with Oracle while also partnering with it, and if Red Hat wants to have its voice heard with regard to the claims Oracle makes about it, then Red Hat will have to take the training wheels off and speak plainly and directly to its customers about what it does better than Oracle, why it does all that better than Oracle, and why its business model is superior to Oracle's.
This anonymous stuff might play in the non-profit world, but against an aggressive and vocal competitor like Oracle and celebrity like Larry Ellison, it's a sure loser.