Oracle Considers Novell Purchase

Noting that his company lacks an OS of its own, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said this week that he would consider purchasing Linux vendor Novell. Oracle's server software is currently used on several OSs, but its two biggest Linux OS partners, Red Hat and IBM, both compete with Oracle in the middleware category.

"We're missing an operating system," Ellison said. "You could argue that it makes a lot of sense for us to look at distributing and supporting Linux. I'd like to have a complete stack." He added that Oracle had been thinking about buying Novell for about two years.

Last week, Linux vendor Red Hat purchased JBoss for $350 million. JBoss is one of the leading makers of Java-based middleware, software application servers that run on Linux. With that purchase, Red Hat has put itself squarely in Oracle's crosshairs, despite the fact that the companies are partners in other areas.

The question--of course--is whether buying Novell makes sense for Oracle. Although the mercurial Ellison has been relatively quiet lately, he's never been one to let others steal the spotlight or outmaneuver his company. But purchasing Novell could be an expensive mistake for Oracle, one that would require the company to support a much wider ecosystem than it's currently accustomed to. Novell is expected to fetch $1 billion.

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