Oracle and Red Hat’s Unexpected Alliance: A Strategic Pivot Amidst Cloud Growth Concerns

Tuesday, 3 October, 2023


The collaboration between Red Hat and Oracle, announced at Oracle CloudWorld 2023, comes as a surprising turn of events given the longstanding feud between the two companies. Historically, Oracle and Red Hat have been at odds, particularly after Red Hat’s decision to end support for CentOS—a move that led Oracle to challenge Red Hat’s market dominance by forming alliances with other Linux providers. The two companies even engaged in public disagreements and criticisms, as evidenced by Oracle’s Open Enterprise Linux Association (OpenELA) and Red Hat’s comments defending their decisions. Given this background, the announcement indicates a remarkable shift in the relationship between these two tech giants. Moreover, this partnership emerges at a pivotal time for Oracle, which recently faced concerns over slowed cloud growth that contributed to a 13% stock drop after their first fiscal quarter reporting.

Context and Subtext

Before diving into the intricacies of the Oracle-Red Hat partnership, it’s essential to frame the broader narrative that surrounds their collaboration. Historically marked by competition and contrasting market maneuvers, the relationship between these two tech giants has always been intricate. The choices made by both companies, as seen through their public statements and strategic decisions, provide a window into the evolving dynamics of the tech world. With this backdrop, we can better understand the deeper motivations and implications of their recent announcements.

1. Previous Animosity: The partnership is somewhat surprising given the recent “war of words” between the two companies. Oracle even formed the Open Enterprise Linux Association (OpenELA) in collaboration with other Linux providers to challenge Red Hat’s market position. However, this partnership indicates a strategic shift in Oracle’s position.

2. Commitment to Open Source: Despite the friction, Oracle’s messaging around their commitment to open-source solutions has remained strong. The partnership might soften the perception that Oracle and Red Hat are arch-rivals in the open-source world, which can be beneficial for Oracle in terms of public image.

3. Red Hat’s Strength: The deal indirectly confirms Red Hat’s robust market position. Despite the end of CentOS support and the emergence of RHEL forks like Alma Linux and Rocky Linux, Red Hat has maintained its allure, as evidenced by Salesforce migrating their systems to RHEL 9.

4. Market Competition: With this collaboration, Oracle is strengthening its position against competitors in the cloud infrastructure market by offering a comprehensive solution that appeals to current Red Hat customers.

Barriers to Entry on Oracle Cloud (OCI)

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) has evolved significantly over the years and has positioned itself as a strong contender in the cloud space. However, like any technology product, some customers have voiced concerns or experienced challenges. Some common complaints or perceived negatives about Oracle’s Cloud include:

1. Late Entry: Oracle entered the cloud market later than competitors like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. This late start meant that they had to play catch-up, and some potential customers had already committed to other platforms.

2. Complex Licensing: Oracle’s licensing model, especially for its database products, can be intricate and hard to understand. This complexity sometimes leads to concerns about unexpected costs when deploying on OCI.

3. Migration Challenges: Some businesses have found it challenging to migrate legacy Oracle applications to OCI, facing issues with compatibility or performance.

4. Learning Curve: Due to some unique features and approaches in OCI, there’s a learning curve involved, especially for professionals familiar with other cloud platforms.

5. Integration with Third-Party Tools: While OCI offers a wide range of native tools, some users feel it doesn’t integrate as smoothly with a broader ecosystem of third-party tools compared to its competitors.

6. Perception of Being Niche: Some perceive Oracle’s Cloud as primarily beneficial for businesses already heavily invested in Oracle products, rather than as a general-purpose cloud solution.

7. Cost Concerns: Some customers have expressed concerns about the cost structure, especially when trying to predict expenses for larger deployments or when factoring in data egress charges.

8. Global Reach and Data Center Availability: While Oracle has been expanding its data center regions rapidly, it started with fewer regions than its established competitors. This factor can be a concern for companies requiring a global presence.

9. Support Concerns: Some users have pointed out issues with Oracle’s support, citing slow response times or a lack of expertise on specific cloud-native challenges.

10. Momentum and Mindshare: Given the strong presence and branding of competitors like AWS and Azure, Oracle Cloud has sometimes struggled with gaining the same level of community momentum, developer mindshare, and ecosystem growth.

What Customers Can Expect from the Partnership

As Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) continues to adapt and refine its position in the cloud market, its partnership with Red Hat represents a notable evolution in its offerings. This collaboration, born out of strategic necessity and market dynamics, promises to bring tangible benefits to customers. But what does this really mean for users? Here’s a closer look at what customers can anticipate from this partnership:

1. Greater Flexibility and Choice: The integration of Red Hat’s OpenShift platform into Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) offers Oracle customers more options for deploying applications, whether they are running Red Hat OpenShift solutions on-premises or are considering a transition to the cloud.

2. Simplified Deployment: With Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) now being deployable on OCI’s “bare metal servers” and in the Oracle VMware Cloud Solution, the move may simplify the software stack and reduce administrative overhead.

3. Interoperability: For Oracle customers already using Red Hat OpenShift or RHEL, the partnership assures better compatibility and integrated support between the two platforms. This is a win for enterprises that wish to standardize their systems across cloud and on-premises environments.

4. Reduced Friction in Transition: Companies planning to move their on-premises operations to the cloud may find the transition easier, thanks to the expanded partnership. It’s easier to shift to a cloud infrastructure when the underlying technologies are consistent.

5. Risk Mitigation: Given the earlier announcement by Red Hat to end support for CentOS, Oracle customers may have been concerned about the long-term viability of relying on such systems. The strengthened partnership with Red Hat provides a more stable path forward.

Addressing Slowed Cloud Growth

Oracle’s recent quarterly report saw a slowing down in cloud sales growth, revealing potential vulnerabilities in its cloud strategy as it contends with giants like Microsoft and Amazon. In Q1, while there was an impressive 66% growth, it paled in comparison to the previous quarter’s 76% growth, causing concern among investors and stakeholders.

This partnership with Red Hat can be seen as a strategic move by Oracle to reinvigorate its cloud growth. By integrating Red Hat’s acclaimed OpenShift platform, Oracle might be aiming to:

1. Attract a Wider Customer Base: By offering compatibility with Red Hat, Oracle can appeal to a broader swath of enterprises that already rely on Red Hat solutions.

2. Enhance Cloud Offerings: The partnership may enrich Oracle’s cloud services, making them more competitive against offerings from Microsoft’s Azure or Amazon’s AWS.

3. Restore Investor Confidence: Demonstrating adaptability and a willingness to collaborate with other industry leaders can bolster investor sentiment, signaling that Oracle is proactive in addressing its challenges.


The recent partnership between Oracle and Red Hat represents a significant shift in their historically contentious relationship, and for Oracle, it’s a timely strategy amidst concerns of slowed cloud growth. The collaboration indicates not only the mending of bridges between the two tech behemoths but also Oracle’s commitment to bolstering its cloud offerings in the face of stiff competition. This move might be the catalyst Oracle needs to regain momentum, restore investor confidence, and ensure its cloud infrastructure remains a compelling choice for businesses across the globe. In the evolving cloud landscape, this partnership underscores the importance of adaptability and customer focus, as both companies seem to prioritize these over past rivalries.

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