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VARs To HP, Oracle: Stop The Mudslinging!

Partners say the two vendors need to drop the childish antics and simply focus on growing sales.

Solution providers said the childish mudslinging between Hewlett-Packard and Oracle is distracting from the business at hand: growing technology solution sales in the midst of an economic downturn.

"Both companies need to get out of the high-school lunchroom and focus on supporting their partners and growing sales," said Bob Venero, president and CEO of Future Tech Enterprise, a Holbrook, N.Y., VAR500 company. "This is just rhetoric and dirty laundry that shouldn't be aired externally."

Venero's comments came after the HP-Oracle feud took yet another nasty twist with Oracle poised to drag new HP CEO Leo Apotheker into the final phase of a legal battle with Apotheker's former employer, SAP.

Oracle has put Apotheker on notice that he will be called as a witness in a trial centered on the theft of stolen customer materials from Oracle.

SAP already has said it would not fight Oracle's contention that an SAP subsidiary stole customer materials from Oracle and then used those materials to win over customers.

NEXT: HP's New Chairman Gets Into The Act

The damages portion of the trial starts Nov. 1, Apotheker's first official day as HP CEO. Apotheker was pushed aside as SAP CEO in February after 20 years at the company.

If that isn't enough, new HP Chairman Ray Lane, who also starts on Nov. 1, is dragging former HP CEO and new Oracle President Mark Hurd into the fray by accusing Hurd of lying to the HP board of directors.

In a letter to The New York Times, Lane said that "Mr Hurd violated the trust of the board by repeatedly lying to them in the course of an investigation into his conduct." Lane's comments came in reaction to a New York Times column suggesting that Apotheker knew of the theft of Oracle intellectual property.

Hurd, who has been universally praised for transforming HP into the No. 1 IT company in the world, was forced to step aside as HP CEO in August following an investigation into sexual harassment charges and misreported expenses.

"This is comical," said the CEO of one of HP-Oracle's top partners, who did not want to be identified. "It is unfortunate. At that level all parties should refrain from mudslinging. Calling people names doesn't do much for you. It's like Ghandi said, 'An eye for an eye makes you both blind.' It's not good for business. I never speak about my competition. That is a golden rule in selling: We sell the value that we have. What the competition does is not my business. I sell my value. This is kind of like politicians."

NEXT: The Impact On The Sales Pipeline

"I believe in doing what is right and moving on," added the HP-Oracle partner. "Mark Hurd did well for HP and I am sure they will do well without him. Is it necessary to pull all these punches? They are all top-notch executives."

Future Tech's Venero said he does not believe the mudslinging will impact sales in the pipeline or customer technology solution purchase decisions. "I don't think it will hinder sales," he said. "But it will bring questionable conversation around what is the focus of these organizations. I think people are giving the wrong advice and wrong direction to both Ray Lane and Larry Ellison. With the economic climate the way it is you would think there would be a lot more focus on sales growth, partner support and value -- not mudslinging."

One source close to HP, who did not want to be identified, said the debate needs to return to channel economics, such as Oracle's recent decision to cut maintenance renewals for some Sun partners.

The source also said some partners are losing sight of the essential HP partner proposition in the wake of all the rhetoric. "HP has a consistent message to the channel," he said. "You take care of us. We'll take care of you."

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