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Oracle Changes Solaris 10 Licensing and Support Options

Now that Oracle has completed its acquisition of Sun, its strategy for Solaris customer support is becoming more clear. And that starts with changes to the license and support terms that may limit use of Solaris 10. Supported hardware and technical support contracts are at the heart of those changes.

InfoWorld did some sleuthing through current and older versions of the Solaris 10 license and discovered that Oracle added new terms to the Solaris 10 license: "Please remember, your right to use Solaris acquired as a download is limited to a trial of 90 days, unless you acquire a service contract for the downloaded Software."

Previously, users could simply register a valid e-mail address, receive an Entitlement Document and use Solaris 10 without a time limit as long as they didn't need support. The new terms appear to limit use of Solaris to a 90-day period unless the user obtains a support contract from Oracle.

Along with these new license terms come revisions to the support policy. As reported by BusinessWeek, in order to qualify for a support contract, Oracle now ties the support to both hardware and software. In other words, Solaris 10 support is only available if it's running on a supported hardware system. Customers without hardware system support will also have to get along without maintenance releases, patches and technical assistance from Oracle.

Customers with existing support contract or Entitlement Documents do not appear to be affected by these new policies.

These changes to Solaris licensing and support fall hardest on those looking for a free or low-cost Unix upgrade path. Oracle seems to be focusing its attention on customers willing to buy into full hardware and software support contracts. For mission-critical applications, customers will need to choose between embracing Oracle or looking for alternative OS solutions.

Customers moving from Sun solutions may be tempted by OpenSolaris or one of the available Linux distributions. The InfoWorld article pointed out that "IDC's estimates indicate that Sun Solaris revenue has declined at about 10 percent annually from 2006 to 2008. The 2009 data, due out this summer, will likely continue this negative trend. Over the same period, Linux, and its poster child vendor, Red Hat, has grown at least 15 percent plus range annually."

About the Author

Terrence Dorsey is technical editor of MSDN Magazine.

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