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HP 'shocked' by Oracle's Itanium decision

Patrick Thibodeau | March 24, 2011
HP executives are critical of Oracle's decision to stop supporting its database and ERP products that run on Itanium processor-based systems.

Oracle's decision to stop supporting its products on Intel's Itanium chips drew a particularly harsh response from Hewlett-Packard, which ships the vast majority of servers that are based on the processor.

On Tuesday, Oracle said it had decided " to discontinue all software development" on Itanium. In doing so, it cited discussions with Intel, as well as earlier decisions by Microsoft and Red Hat to end Itanium support.

Oracle also placed some of the blame on HP CEO Leo Apotheker, claiming that he had "made no mention" of Itanium at an HP forum earlier this month.

"We are shocked that Oracle would put enterprises and governments at risk while costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity," said Dave Donatelli, HP's executive vice president, in an email statement.

Crawford Del Prete, an analyst at IDC, said Donatelli's point "is fair -- where does this leave customers in the whole thing?"

"Why is Oracle making this statement right now?" asked Del Prete. "If you are an Itanium customer, you've got to be left scratching your head here. What's going on, and what's the motivation behind this? I don't have an answer for that rhetorical question."

HP has about 90% of the Itanium market, according to IDC.

Oracle followed up its announcement with a support termination schedule for Itanium. In some cases, product support may end relatively swiftly.

For instance, the last version of PeopleSoft that Oracle will support on Itanium is 9.1. The company plans to ship PeopleSoft Version 9.2 next year.

The current Version 11gR2 of the Oracle database will be the last to support Itanium.

Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, said that as Oracle moves away from Itanium support, "whatever performance customers can wrest out of their current systems is about as good as it's going to get. Customers that have invested on Itanium and Oracle together are going to have to start investigating other options for maximizing their performance."

For its part, Intel on Wednesday reaffirmed support for Itanium and disputed Oracle's contention that Itanium was "nearing the end of its life."

In a statement, Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel, said the company remains "firmly committed" to Itanium and is continuing to work on the technology.

Although Oracle and HP have long talked about an alliance, the relationship between the firms cooled considerably when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems last year and then hired former HP CEO Mark Hurd after he was ousted last year.

Earlier this month, the Itanium Solutions Alliance drew attention to a white paper from HP and Intel, claiming 41% total cost savings for users who move from older Sparc servers to the Itanium platform.


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