Intel's HP-Oracle-Itanium soap opera: Why you should care
Enjoy the drama, but get ready to migrate
There's a rumor ABC is going to cancel paleolithic soap opera "All My Children."
Luckily, in the tech industry, we can fill in any need for soap operatic behavior with Oracle and anything it touches.
The most recent outrage from bad-boy Larry Ellison and his posse of black-cloaked minions was to announce they would dash the hopes of young Intel, by halting development of Oracle apps and databases for Unix servers based on Intel's Itanium processors.
Oracle said it made the decision because Intel management "made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life," the Oracle announcement said.
"Nay, you fiend" cried Intel, flinging itself on the chaise lounge and weeping, copiously. (Actually, being Intel, its response was quick but incredibly boring. It put out a one-paragraph press release affirming that "Intel's work in Intel Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule." It tried to amp up the statement by attributing it to CEO Paul Otellini, and mentioning that the next-generation Itanium will be an 8-core based on a 32nm architecture. Fans wept with relief.)
Charging that Intel plans to drop Itanium is an act of "anti-customer" disinformation that " is clearly an attempt to force customers into purchasing Sun servers in a desperate move to slow their declining market share, according to an HP release titled HP Supports Customers Despite Oracle’s Anti-customer Actions.
Sun just slipped from No. 2 to No. 3 in the server market in IDC surveys, HP notes.
That slip shows Oracle is losing so much money on Sun and Sun servers it has become desperate endanger its customers and the whole market for Itanium by lying about Intel's plans for the processor and put customers in the position of swapping out their Itanium servers for SPARC or risk losing support for their critical applications, the release implies.
"HP believes in fair and honest competition," it sniffs.
"We are shocked that Oracle would put enterprises and governments at risk while costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity in a shameless gambit to limit fair competition,” continues the quote, which is attributed to HP EVP Dave Donatelli, but appears to have been written by a refugee from either "Days of our Lives," reality TV, or a recently closed therapeutic home for the dramatic and shameless.
If Oracle is desperate, the financial results it posted Thursday don't show it. Sales increased 37 percent, revenue beat Wall Street forecasts by $100 million, and profits totaled $2.8 billion.
HP owns 90 percent of the Itanium server market, according to IDC.
Oracle, overqualified for anything involving drama and shamelessness, countered with its own press release saying Oracle isn't putting customers at risk, it's protecting them by giving them adequate notice that future versions of its products won't support Itanium, though it will continue to support existing products on the platform.
Oracle threw in a bit of conspiracy-theory paranoia as well:
"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. HP is knowingly withholding this information from our joint Itanium customers," Oracle's release charged.
The Register suggests the whole spitting match is personal – driven by conflicts between top execs at HP and Oracle – which hired former HP CEO Mark Hurd after Hurd was fired for sexual harassment and too much creativity with expense reimbursements, annoying HP enough to hire the former CEO of Oracle arch-rival SAP (then the defendant in an intellectual-property theft suit in which Oracle was the plaintiff) to be HP's CEO and put former Oracle icon Ray Lane to chair its board.
The whole thing gets kind of tedious to type, let alone follow if you're not a big fan of tech-heavy soap operas, or if you like to get your toddler behavior from actual toddlers.
If you're looking for the upshot of all the wasted bandwidth, adversarial marketing, threats, noise, accusations and hype, as far as I can tell, here it is: Oracle won't run any future versions of its software on Itanium. Intel will keep developing Itanium and HP will keep selling servers with it.
If you want to run on anything but Itanium servers running HP-UX, think about migrating to another platform at about the time you would have done so anyway – in three to five years when your hardware reaches end of life, the vendors' drama is forgotten and the issues behind them actually make a difference to you.
Far more likely, by the time you need to migrate any critical applications or databases, you'll be able to run them on virtual or cloud-based platforms that act as emulation layers, allowing you to run them on anything you want. So get ready to migrate, but probably not to anything Oracle, HP or Intel would like to lock you in to right now.