Red Hat today hit back at the pricing war initiated by Oracle involving the enterprise open source vendor’s support customers.

It used its website to publish a response to questions raised by the announcement made by Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison yesterday that his company would lure Red Hat Linux enterprise support customers away with its own support package priced at less than half of what the open source vendor currently charges.

Bob Tarzey, Quocirca senior analyst told CIO: “This is a typical vendor tactic, and an old software trick to win customers away from a competitor. But at another level it could be seen as Oracle trying to gain more ownership of the enterprise software stack.”

Red Hat stated that Oracle’s aggressive move, touted by Ellison as a way to drive Linux adoption in the enterprise, would not affect its seven-year relationship with the database giant. But it did say that any customer taking on the Oracle offer would invalidate hardware and software certifications, split the Red Hat Linux operating system, produce slower security updates from Oracle and so compromise the security and reliability of the operating system for any customer that switches.

It also pointed out that the Oracle offer does not extend to support for the Red Hat application stack, JBoss server products, development platform Hibernate, Red Hat Global File System, Cluster Suite, Directory Server, or Certificate System products.

“The changes Oracle has stated they will make will result in a different code base than Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Simply put, this derivative will not be Red Hat Enterprise Linux and customers will not have the assurance of compatibility with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux ecosystem,” it added.

Tarzey said the Oracle move could lead to a price war, or squeeze Red Hat out of the market, at which point Oracle would be well placed to capitalise on its competitor’s demise.

“Red Hat has the largest customer base on Linux, which is widely used in data centres where Oracle wants to push its grid,” he said. “But this move by Oracle may not necessarily be successful, because you wonder what the motivation would be for non-Oracle existing Red Hat customers to move. It has certainly said it wants to build its own software stack in the past, but may be put off a potential acquisition of Red Hat now it owns JBoss because Oracle has its own application server products.”

The market will watch for Red Hat’s next move, as the company hinted there was “more to follow…” on its website, suggesting that although the Oracle announcement may have caught it on the hop, it will not go down without a fight.