VARs Anticipate Hurd Address at OpenWorld

For HP solution providers trying to determine whether or not to follow himby signing up to offer Oracle-Sun hardware, this could be a key moment. But opinions are divided as to whether Hurd will actually appear at the event.

On Monday, Oracle shocked the industry by selecting Hurd as its new co-president. Not to be outdone, HP subsequently sued Hurd for breach of contract over his potential use of HP trade secrets.

“In light of the lawsuit, it’s very likely the schedule could change and Hurd won't speak, which would obviously tick off Larry further," an HP solution provider who requested anonymity told CRN on Thursday. "That will be decided at the last minute depending on whether a judge rules on an injunction before then.”

If Hurd does speak, it's likely that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison will be the one to do the introduction, the source predicted. "I would bet money that Larry will do the introduction. Hurd's reception would be like that of a political convention -- a standing ovation, long and loud," the source said.

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Despite Hurd's popularity among channel partners, and the likelihood that he would be received warmly at OpenWorld, his appearance could be problematic for HP. That's because Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's Enterprise Business, is scheduled to speak immediately before Hurd.

“Imagine how awkward, again in light of the lawsuit, it will be for Livermore to be a keynote speaker at the customer event of someone they’ve sued," the source said. "I would hate to be her.”

With all the attention on Hurd, Livermore's delicate position as a speaker at the Oracle event -- and as a channel partner -- is itself cause for concern. "I hope she stays in the program," said Don Richie, CEO of Sequel Data Systems, an Austin, Texas-based solution provider and long-time HP partner.

"I hope everybody looks at the bigger picture. Both companies are so important to each other. The last thing they need to do is to tell customers, 'We have this big rift between us and we're drifting away from each other.' That would hurt both companies," Richie said, adding "I have no doubt that Larry and Ann both understand both organizations' importance to each other."

But despite the potential for awkwardness, some solution providers are optimistic that HP and Oracle will work out their issues and resume their partnership.

John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration, a Redmond, Wash.-based HP partner emphasized the importance of the alliance between HP and Oracle to both companies, as they cooperate and compete in the market for computer database and storage.

"Hopefully, they'll settle their issues soon and get back to working together for their customers," Convery said.

Denali, a long-time HP partner, is considering a partnership with Oracle, but Convery isn't expecting Hurd to say much about his strategy for working with the channel.

"It will take time for the smoke to clear. We'll hear more from him and Oracle later on a one-to-one basis," Convery said.