The Linux chess match between Red Hat and Oracle now involves a showdown on long-term support strategies. Indeed, both Red Hat and Oracle recently extended their Linux support life cycles to a lengthy 10 years. The big potential winners are partners and customers that are trying to maintain long-term IT road maps involving Linux data centers.

The support showdown started a couple of weeks ago, when Red Hat extended the life cycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) versions 5 and 6 from the norm of seven years to a new standard of 10 years. A few days later, Oracle responded by extending Oracle Linux life cycles to 10 years. Side note: It sounds like SUSE, now owned by Attachmate, also offers extended Linux support of up to 10 years.

Generally speaking, The VAR Guy believes Red Hat continues to enjoy the most Linux channel momentum. During a typical quarter, Red Hat generates somewhere between 55 to 60 percent of its revenues from channel partners.

Oracle, meanwhile, has not made much channel partner noise with Oracle Linux. But Oracle does have Linux-based products that are attracting channel attention. A key example is the Oracle Database Appliance, which IT distributors like Avnet Technology Solutions now offer to channel partners.

Red Hat may enjoy the most Linux mind share and market share within corporate America. But Oracle's continued counter-moves, including 10 years of support on Oracle Linux releases, continue to keep Oracle on The VAR Guy's radar.