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Hewlett Packard is rallying its partners to convince Oracle to change its mind on the Itanium issue, but customers are the only parties that have any chance of swaying Oracle's opinion on the matter.
That's according to solution providers who've been working to calm clients who've invested in HP's Itanium-based Integrity, NonStop, and OpenVMS servers and are running Oracle applications on them.
"In my customer base, it's not 'Oracle is the bad guy' or 'HP is the bad guy', it's more like, 'We bought a solution from you two and we're holding you both responsible,'" said Fred Traversi, CEO of AdvizeX Technologies, an Independence, Ohio-based solution provider that partners with both companies. "Our belief is that customers talking to Oracle will have a more significant impact on their strategy than any reseller would have."
In the weeks since Oracle decided to stop developing software for Intel's Itanium processor, AdvizeX has reached out to its base of around 270 customers that are running Oracle software on HP Integrity servers. Traversi says customers who've built significant customization on top of their Oracle application base stand to lose the most, so their voices are likely to be the loudest.
"These folks are going to spend millions of dollars to migrate apps," Traversi said. "In planning, that's a year or more of their budget cycle, depending on the degree of application customization and integration to other systems. They just don’t want to do that."
HP is in the midst of a spirited social media campaign to pressure Oracle, and partners are playing a central role. HP executives have been marshaling public opinion on the company's #HPCustomersFirst Twitter feed, which launched in the wake of last month's Americas Partner Conference. HP this week also announced that Connect, a 52,000-strong community of HP users, is on board with the effort.
Frank Rauch, vice president of channel sales for HP's Enterprise Storage Server Networking (ESSN) group, reiterated the message that Oracle's Itanium decision is bad for customers earlier this week at Ingram Micro's VentureTech Network conference in Chicago. "My advice to you is, if you feel the same way as I do about your customers and your investment, write Oracle and tell them how you feel. We need to get them to reverse the decision," Rauch said at the event.
HP's leveraging of partner angst is unique -- and possibly, a blueprint for how these sorts of hot button issues will be hashed out between companies in the future. "HP is trying to build a groundswell of opinion, and it seems to be a reasonable tactic to see if the market can rally with a loud voice to get Oracle be more fair and open," said Steve Tepedino, president of Melillo Consulting, a Somerset, N.J.-based solution providers.
However, many HP partners believe that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison would rather show up at the next America's Cup in a rowboat than bend to the will of HP.
"I would love to think the HP partner community could wield enough influence to change an Oracle decision. However, judging from Oracle's actions in the past, I’m not sure that anyone could change Ellison's mind on this matter," said one HP partner, who spoke on condition of anonymity.