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HP and Oracle had close partners, often teaming up by selling high-end HP hardware with Oracle's enterprise software. But the alliance bagan to crack when Oracle acquired Sun this year and moved into the data center market, competing with HP.
The partnership further deteriorated when HP forced former CEO Mark Hurd to resign. Hurd, who is friends with Ellison, was quickly hired by Oracle as co-president, replaced former co-president Charles Phillips. HP then filed a lawsuit against Hurd to prevent him from joining Oracle, claiming "irreparable damage" HP faced if Hurd divulged company secrets to Oracle. The two sides eventually settled the lawsuit and Hurd joined Oracle last month.
Despite the settlement, the feud continued when HP gave its CEO job to Leo Apotheker, former chief executive at SAP and a major Oracle rival. In addition, HP named former Oracle president Ray Lane as its chairman. Ellison wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal slamming HP's appointment of Apotheker, who Ellison claimed did a poor job as head of SAP.
Bob Venero, president and CEO of Future Tech Enterprise, a Holbrook, N.Y., VAR 500 company, said the move to bring Apotheker into the SAP Oracle trial "could be a legitimate court matter or a way for Oracle to create fear, uncertainty and doubt within HP's partner and customer community regarding HP leadership and the future direction of the company.
"From a partner's perspective it is too much rhetoric," said Venero. "Candidly the customer and partner community doesn’t need to be bothered with this."