Analysis: In The HP-Oracle Server Fight, There Are No Winners

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Hewlett-Packard and Oracle are both losers in the war over whether Oracle is legally obligated to continue developing software for HP's Itanium-based server platform -- despite HP having the legal upper hand for now.

The judge in the HP-Oracle lawsuit Tuesday released the text of his final decision in which he concluded that Oracle is legally obligated to continue developing its software for HP's Itanium processor-based servers for as long as HP continues to manufacture them.

Those servers are used primarily for applications running on HP's HP-UX Unix operating system, especially Oracle database and other applications. The two vendors worked together for three decades, and HP-UX traditionally was the largest operating environment for Oracle's high-end software.


[Related: Oracle, HP Release Documents That Paint Ugly Pictures Of Each Other]

But now customers of both vendors' high-margin Unix servers are leaving those platforms for IBM's Unix server line or for high-end x86 servers from HP and other vendors, according to research firm Gartner's second-quarter server sales report, released this week. And, according to channel partners close to the two vendors, customers also are looking at alternatives to Oracle's industry-leading database and other software.

Gartner's second-quarter server sales report estimated that Oracle's Unix server shipments fell 5.2 percent and HP's fell 31 percent compared to the second quarter of 2011.

Those drops resulted in a 31.9 percent decrease in Oracle Unix server revenue and a 29.1 percent decrease in HP Unix server revenue over the same period, according to Gartner.

For HP, the second-quarter drop was slightly better than in the first quarter when its Unix server shipments plummeted 36 percent and revenue 40.2 percent. But for Oracle, the second-quarter Unix sales situation deteriorated compared to the first quarter, when its shipments fell 1.2 percent and revenue fell 25.7 percent.

Meanwhile, HP last week reported that revenue for its Business Critical Systems, or BCS, business, which is heavily based on its Unix servers, fell 16 percent year-over-year.

NEXT: Customers' Choices Don't Always Include HP Or Oracle

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