Yes, I know ... everyone else blogged about this last week (I was having one of “those weeks” where blogging suffered as a result of my being consumed by other activities), and I just had to weigh in on this issue if only briefly.
I think that Red Hat, as a business, could be in trouble. First, Oracle begins offering support for Red Hat Linux at a price below Red Hat's support cost (ouch), and then two of Red Hat's biggest competitors Microsoft and Novell sign an agreement to collaborate that includes indemnification (Dana Gardner said this agreement was akin to “Fox marries chicken, both move into henhouse”).
Nick Selby from the 451 group has an interesting analysis comparing Red Hat to the “Poland of software vendors” including not just the recent Oracle and Microsoft / Novell but also some insight into how Ubuntu may contribute to Red Hat's decline:
And Red Hat itself now faces the real possibility of extinction … Overnight, Red Hat has become the flattest piece of land between two battling superpowers: the Poland of software vendors.
Less obvious is the effect on Ubuntu’s plans to burst onto the enterprise scene in the West. Ubuntu’s sponsor, Canonical’s, overriding strategy hinges on two key pillars. First, Ubuntu is feature-rich and easy-to-use, to appeal to non-fuddy-duddys - that next generation of young whippersnapper admins coming up in enterprise as we speak.
Second, the support model is flexible. Years before the Oracle and Microsoft announcements to provide support for someone else’s Linux distro, Canonical set out to provide support not just from itself but from an entire eco-system of other support companies. And the support could be bought for as little as a single server in a cluster.
The model was appealing precisely because of the Red Hat and Novell’s Soviet-style lock-ins - the very models which are now in flux. (Quote from Nick Selby on the 451 CAOS Theory blog)
Unless Red Hat pulls a rabbit out of their hat or Oracle, Microsoft, and Novell fail to execute on these announcements, I predict that Red Hat will really start to feel the pain in 2007.