Well, the most valuable features are not the technical features. The most valuable feature is more of a support case feature. They build the operating system, we also run on Oracle hardware, and we run an Oracle database on top of that. The big benefit is having one vendor to go to for your hardware questions, your database questions and the operating system in the middle. So it makes life a lot easier. In general, they know more about it. They are simple cases, because you've got everything from one vendor.
One technical aspect I like is Ksplicing. You can patch Linux without having downtime.
Those two combined with the sophistication from Oracle products on Oracle Linux sums it up. Ksplicing and a certified one-vendor approach is in many cases the biggest benefits.
Improvements to My Organization
In general, if they move off from Windows, they will see quite heavy cost-cutting. You've got some heavier costs when you move off from Red Hat and especially if you combine it with the hardware deal where you run it on Oracle hardware. You get the support for the operating system for free; it's quite a major case. That is something you can expect and see a return on investment quite quickly.
In all honesty, there are not that many additional benefits except for the money and the other items I've mentioned, in relation to Red Hat, because the operating systems are quite the same. It is more about the financial and support and Ksplicing; those are the main differentiators. But, in general, we see customers going down in costs when they move off from Red Hat to Oracle Linux.
Room for Improvement
Regarding areas for improvement, I think they follow the main kernel filler. The only thing from what I can see as an improvement is the level of adoption in the Linux community because I too often see non-Oracle products at first not being released or not being certified as Oracle Linux. You see more adoption in Red Hat even though they are binary-compatible. You often see that those extras are not directly available on the Oracle download repositories, whereas with Red Hat there is a lot available. And Oracle is quite focused on its own product stack. You can get everything running; everything that you can run on Red Hat you can run on Oracle Linux. However, it is not that integrated. It's no big deal, it takes you a couple of extra commands, but they could spin off more adoption by doing that.
In all honesty, I know that their graphical user interface is very basic, but I think 99.9% of people use it on a server version that doesn't have any display connected to it. Therefore, there's no reason for doing that. I don't see that much improvement specifically for Oracle Linux; I have the same stuff as for Linux in general. There's the adoption of specific drivers as such, but nothing specific for Oracle Linux. I think that they are a very good competitor to Red Hat.
Use of Solution
We adopted Oracle Linux seven or eight years ago, when we started moving off from Red Hat. In that time frame, you're generally investing knowledge into Oracle Linux. I think it's around seven years or something.
I haven't seen any big stability issues with a couple of customers that are doing Oracle Linux. The only issues we have seen are more generally kernel-related, so Red Hat would have the same issue.
The big benefit is that you have additional stability if you run Oracle products, because you always have the guarantee that if you upgrade anything, Oracle software will continue running. You're not running the risk that you'll break anything, within reason. A bug is always possible, but if you're running an Oracle shop, running Oracle Linux makes absolute sense because it is part of their testing strategy to ensure that the databases work if they bring out stuff.
That is, in general, what I tell my customers: "You're running an Oracle database, use Oracle Linux." There is stuff in there that helps you run your database optimally and those guys always have their own products in mind. If you are an Oracle shop, don't go for Red Hat. You've got the financial part, but also it's from the same vendor. They know the guys from database themselves, and they keep them in mind when they bring out a patch. That makes absolute sense.
With scalability, we have customers that are scaling up their machines, but also scaling up cluster-wise. In general, there is no big issue with scalability. It is really stable; Oracle puts out really stable releases.
Customer Service and Technical Support
I do not engage a lot with Oracle's customer support or technical support. In general, we do the outsourcing part. Our teams engage a lot with Oracle and we step in when things are not going that smoothly. If it is a really big issue and they can't find the root cause or a solution, that's when I step in. It's not that much, but every now and then I need to engage with those guys. Sometimes support is good, sometimes support is bad. I think that's the case with every vendor, but in general they have quite knowledgeable teams. What I see with Oracle is that they are willing to build you a solution if you can tell them what's wrong with something. If you find a bug, you quite quickly know that it's being promoted to the development teams. And you see that ending up in the next version, you see it ending up in patches. That's quite good.
There is not really that much to say about setup and the transition. It was quite a walk in the park for a lot of our engagements where we had a very simple transition, especially for databases. You have to remember everything is binary-compatible, so we just brought the new machines and moved over all the applications and all the databases we were running with Red Hat for those specific customers. We anticipated undergoing quite a heavy transformation, but it turned out that, in general, it was quite a simple transformation.
We still do that today, for new customers that onboard that are running IT professionally and say "We would like to move to a cloud-generated data center". We say, "Okay, you can stick with Red Hat, but for the same money, we can move you off to Oracle Linux and then you actually get a discount."
Because we already have Oracle Linux, we don't charge them for that and it makes our lives easier. Every now and then, you have an off-case where they did some funny stuff, but in general it is a very simple transformation. Nothing scary, nothing complicated over there. Quite easy.
My general feeling would be "Don't worry too much." It is not that complicated. It's a very stable Linux distribution, and especially when you're in doubt, you can always reach out to the guys from Oracle. That is, of course, if you chose to pay for it, but you can try this stuff for free. You can spin it off on a VirtualBox image. Just download stuff, just give it a try and you will see how easy it is. That's my general advice.
If you're an Oracle shop, it should be the first operating system in the Linux sphere to think about. Don't start doing stuff yourself with Red Hat or other distributions.
If you like it, buy the support. It is a stable release and in my honest opinion, I think we will see more and more that Oracle is optimizing their kernels for their software. In that case, it will continue to grow. I think in a couple of years, you will see much more Oracle software-specific stuff within that kernel. For the future, it's a good direction to head into if you're running Oracle shop and also if you're not running on Oracle shop.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: My company is an Oracle Diamond-level Cloud Premier partner.
Aug 30 2016