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HP 'shocked' by Oracle's Itanium decision

Oracle's decision to pull support on its products running Itanium draws angry reaction from HP execs

March 24, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Oracle's decision to stop supporting its products on Intel's Itanium chips drew a particularly harsh response from Hewlett-Packard, which ships the vast majority of servers that are based on the processor.

On Tuesday, Oracle said it had decided "to discontinue all software development" on Itanium. In doing so, it cited discussions with Intel, as well as earlier decisions by Microsoft and Red Hat to end Itanium support.

Oracle also placed some of the blame on HP CEO Leo Apotheker, claiming that he had "made no mention" of Itanium at an HP forum earlier this month.

"We are shocked that Oracle would put enterprises and governments at risk while costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity," said Dave Donatelli, HP's executive vice president, in an email statement.

Crawford Del Prete, an analyst at IDC, said Donatelli's point "is fair -- where does this leave customers in the whole thing?"

"Why is Oracle making this statement right now?" asked Del Prete. "If you are an Itanium customer, you've got to be left scratching your head here. What's going on, and what's the motivation behind this? I don't have an answer for that rhetorical question."

Oracle, responding to Donatelli's charge that Oracle is putting customers "at risk," contended that "the opposite is true."

"HP is well aware that Intel's future direction is focused on X86 and that plans to replace Itanium with X86 are already in place," Oracle said in a statement. "HP is knowingly withholding this information from our joint Itanium customers.

"While new versions of Oracle software will not run on Itanium, we will support existing Oracle/Itanium customers on existing Oracle products," Oracle added. "In fact, Oracle is the last of the major software companies to stop development on Itanium."

HP has about 90% of the Itanium market, according to IDC.

Oracle followed up its announcement with a support termination schedule for Itanium. In some cases, product support may end relatively swiftly.

For instance, the last version of PeopleSoft that Oracle will support on Itanium is 9.1. The company plans to ship PeopleSoft Version 9.2 next year.

The current Version 11gR2 of the Oracle database will be the last to support Itanium.

Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, said that as Oracle moves away from Itanium support, "whatever performance customers can wrest out of their current systems is about as good as it's going to get. Customers that have invested on Itanium and Oracle together are going to have to start investigating other options for maximizing their performance."

For its part, Intel on Wednesday reaffirmed support for Itanium and disputed Oracle's contention that Itanium was "nearing the end of its life."



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