Oracle eyes helping agencies make Linux switch

Oracle has stood up a new public sector practice solely focused on servicing and supporting Linux operating systems used by federal agencies and it plans to provide some competition to market leader Red Hat.

As Oracle executives recently told WT, the Linux offering has been available in the federal market for seven years. But Oracle has in the past year ramped up its hiring and partnership efforts to stand up the new organization whose staff is entirely located in the Washington, D.C. region.


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“Because we were a new organization… we hired the people not only with the sales background and the technology background and the experience level that we wanted, which was 15-plus years selling in the federal space,” said Bill Koehl, vice president of North America for the Oracle Linux and virtualization practice.

This new organization focused on the open source Linux system is a separate unit from the rest of Oracle’s public sector business, said Mike Singer, federal director for the Oracle Linux and virtualization practice.

“Because we’re a separate global business unit, we believe in the open source story. We believe that these tools should be free and available to everybody, and there shouldn’t be a tax on your ability to use them,” Singer said.

The idea behind standing up the new unit and Oracle putting emphasis on it from the corporate level is to give federal customers a choice in which provider they want to support the open source-based Linux, said Singer.

“This is not a replacement or a migration,” Singer said. “This is a switch from using one company’s support versus another.”

“We offer an alternative, and then it’s up to the customer to decide which one best meets their needs.”

Some federal agencies have made the switch to Oracle for Linux support, Keohl and Singer said.

While they did not disclose the names of others due to contractual commitments, they cited the Army and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as the ones they could confirm.

Koehl is also responsible for commercial business in his role at Oracle but has a clear-eyed view of what is on the horizon and where the key addressable market is.

“For me, running North America, the federal space is our future,” Koehl said. “Unlike the commercial sector, you can get so much information and understand your competition (and) who’s bidding on different things, it put things out there and it’s all black and white, it’s not color.”

While federal procurement information is inherently not user-friendly, Koehl’s comments do help illustrate how all market players navigate the arena and can keep tabs on each other’s pursuits. Even more important is how much each agency spends on what, which is also available to see depending on classification levels.

“When you have visibility like you can in federal, and there’s so many consultants that have made a business of understanding these contractual obligations… you can sit there and make some pretty good decisions as to who and how I want to target this opportunity,” Koehl said.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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