Fiorina Lays Claims To Linux, Oracle Leadership

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The top two questions at Oracle World this week: "Where's Larry?" and "Who's got the best Linux business?"

Hewlett-Packard Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina Thursday morning disputed claims made earlier this week by Dell Computer Chairman and CEO Michael Dell that Unix is cooked, and that Dell is a major Linux player. (See related story.)

"When we compete with Linux, frankly we don't see a company like Dell, because of service and support requirements," Fiorina said.

Sixteen percent of Oracle9i real application clusters (RACs) running Linux do so on HP ProLiant boxes, she said, adding, "Unix isn't growing as fast as Linux and [Windows NT, but there's a real need for high-end computing systems" for which Unix is key.

On Tuesday, Dell tried to position his company as Oracle's best friend as far as Linux is concerned, claiming that the hardware vendor shipped nearly three times as many servers as Sun Microsystems but at 40 percent of the price. While Unix represents 17 percent of units sold, it accounts for 55 percent of server market revenue, Dell said, adding that "Unix customers pay too much."

John Gage, Sun's chief researcher, spoke Wednesday night at Oracle World and took issue with Dell's Unix-bashing. "Will someone please tell Michael that Linux IS Unix?" he said.

Fiorina stressed that HP remains committed to Windows and Unix, and to both the J2EE and .Net frameworks. "I respect Dell for what it has accomplished," Fiorina said. "They have very efficient distribution of a product line, but in terms of real innovation, real service capabilities and real systems, they are not an innovator."

She then went down the list of major hardware players, crediting Sun with innovation, but said HP's devotion to standards and customer responsiveness gives the company an edge. "As for IBM, much has been written about us trying to be like them. But we're not trying to emulate them. We've made very different choices," Fiorina said. "They're doubling down in businesses where we're not. They're doubling down in high-end business process consulting with PwC; we're partnering. They're doubling down on J2EE; we're agnostic. They're not a consumer technology player; we are."

She steered clear of the topic of the week: The sudden resignation of HP COO Michael Capellas, who is reportedly a major contender for the top job at WorldCom.

As for the absence of Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison at the show, Fiorina updated attendees that, as of Wednesday, Ellison and crew had won nine straight races in their bid for the America's Cup. The team will now compete in the Louis Vuitton quarterfinals.

Naturally, she took some credit. "HP puts the wind in Larry's sails," Fiorina said. The design team used HP servers, iPaqs and storage in the design work. "If Larry's team doesn't win, it's clearly not because of the technology," she said. "It's because of the Captain. Just kidding, Larry."

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