HP Recruits Customers, Partners In Feud With Oracle Over Itanium


Hewlett-Packard said Thursday it has convinced many of its customers and channel partners to speak out against Oracle's decision to end software development for the Itanium-based server.

However, those extra voices may not be enough to convince Oracle to change its mind.

HP said in a statement that partners and customers, along with the 52,000-member Connect independent HP user community, are trying to convince Oracle to reverse its decision to stop future development for Itanium-based servers, the largest vendor of which is HP.

The united appeal from HP and some of its customers and partners stem from Oracle's decision last month to stop developing its software for servers based on Intel's Itanium processor.

That decision was widely believed to stem from the increasingly acrimonious feud between HP and Oracle that started with Oracle's decision to acquire Sun Microsystems and closely tie its software to its Sun servers to produce appliance-like offerings to its customers.

HP, which claims to be the second largest hardware vendor in the Unix market after Oracle-Sun, said in its statement on Thursday that it has thousands of customers who have invested billions of dollars in Oracle software combined with HP's Integrity line of servers, based on Intel's Itanium platform.

HP is by far the largest user of Itanium processors, and may account for up to 95 percent of Intel's output of those processors. The vast majority of HP's Itanium server sales is in its Integrity server line, which runs HP's version of Unix, HP-UX.

Therefore, the decision by Oracle to end development of software for the Itanium platform is seen by HP as a direct attack on its ability to compete against Oracle's Sun hardware and Solaris Unix operating system.

Oracle, on the other hand, earlier said that it's decision was based on information it received from Intel that the future development of the Itanium processor was limited. Intel, for its part, denied that, and said its Itanium roadmap has at least two more generations of Itanium processors planned.

While it is possible for Oracle customers to migrate their Oracle software from HP's Itanium-based Integrity servers to other server platforms, including Solaris on Sun hardware, AIX on IBM hardware, and even Linux on HP's x86 server line, there are some costs involved in terms of qualifying new hardware, testing new configurations, and training.

However, HP solution providers said, that kind of migration is something that happens all the time in this industry.

John Murphy, executive vice president of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based Oracle and HP solution provider which in the past focused mainly on the Sun hardware platform, said customers have been migrating from Sun hardware to HP blade servers for years, and could make the move to something like Linux on HP blades.

"Is it hard?" Murphy said. "It depends on the application and the environment. But in general, it's been done. There is a lot of experience out there in terms of migrations. It's not a huge chasm. There are companies that help do that migration."

Customers are certainly concerned when first considering a move to Linux, Murphy said. "But there's more confidence today in their ability to lock Linux down and not end up floating on the patch de jour," he said. "Customers aren't downloading free things anymore. Before, there were too many different variants in open source. Now there are pretty strict releases of Linux."

Oracle declined to comment Thursday.