Red Hat may have veraciously eaten away at Sun Microsystems' market share for Solaris on Sparc in recent years but the company president and chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz is confident that it can effectively compete in the x86 server space and regain customers from the increasingly popular Linux vendor.
Schwartz believes the biggest problem Red Hat is having in the marketplace is that customers are realizing that a thousand dollars a CPU "doesn't feel like free anymore".
"With Solaris at US$795 all of a sudden we're cheaper than free," Schwartz said. "And for the customers that we've begun migrating away from Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux we know that we have a technical, competitive advantage. That advantage is because our product is just better."
After three years "fundamentally re-architecting" Solaris, Schwartz said it now outperforms Red Hat "on every benchmark". When asked about whether open sourcing Solaris will end up benefiting Linux, Schwartz said: "First of all, you can't use Linux in the room with me."
"You have to identify the distro and the company that's delivering it. Linux is a wonderful concept, [but] customers don't buy concepts they buy products from companies," he said.
"There are a whole slew of advantages we can offer against Red Hat. Now will Red Hat be able to take our innovations and place them into Red Hat's products? I think that will be the subject of a licensing discussion. Just as if we were to put Red Hat into Sun's products we'd have to have a discussion with Red Hat."
In Sydney for Sun's global sales conference, Schwartz then turned on Red Hat's support offerings questioning the value that end users get. Schwartz thinks the competition that's going to be interesting over the next 12 months will be between Solaris 10 and Red Hat, not between Sun and Linux.
"It's going to come down to not social policy and rhetoric, [but] 'is Solaris 10 better than Red Hat Enterprise Linux'," Schwartz said. "Bring it on! I can't wait for that to happen."
Schwartz continued by attacking Red Hat's innovation.
"I think the one complaint I hear about Red Hat, consistently, is that Red Hat doesn't deliver any innovation," he said. "All it does is deliver a box that has a nice brand on it."
Red Hat declined to comment on Schwartz's claims but a spokesperson for the company said it will formally respond to his statements soon.