More (delightful) nastiness between Larry Ellison and HP

Oracle founder calls HP servers 'vulnerable', 'slow'; HP dismisses 'outdated benchmarks'

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It's so sad when former business partners have a bitter falling-out. Unless, of course, you get to blog about it.

The latest volley of verbal brickbats launched by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and returned by Hewlett-Packard came Thursday, when Oracle unveiled new computers based on Sun Microsystems' Sparc chips. Ellison bragged that the "supercluster" of Sparc servers were the fastest ever, crunching more than 30 million transactions per minute on Oracle hardware.

In comparison, he said, the best competitors IBM and HP have ever done were 10 million and 4 million transactions per minute, respectively (if not respectfully).

Oracle, of course, acquired Sun Microsystems and former CEO Scott McNealy's moldy top 10 lists early this year for $7.4 billion.

But Ellison wasn't content to just let the numbers do the talking. (Is he ever?) From the Wall Street Journal:

"We think the H-P machines are vulnerable. We think they're slow," Mr. Ellison said. "We're going to go after them in the marketplace with better software, better hardware and better people, and we're going to win market share."

He passed on sticking to IBM because he says he "likes" Big Blue.

Soon after, HP released a statement calling Sun's technology inferior and suggesting Ellison actually was comparing its "supercluster" performance numbers to the transaction processing speed of an abacus found in an HP storage closet. OK, that's a creative interpretation, but this part's literal:

""Larry Ellison bought a money-losing business that had steady market share declines for years, and which still ranks at the bottom of the market," an HP spokeswoman said. "Customers aren't fooled by outdated benchmarks, no matter what Oracle says."

Thursday's exchange comes, if you recall, after Ellison blasted HP for forcing out former CEO (and personal friend) Mark Hurd, who soon after joined Oracle as co-president, and after Ellison taunted HP for keeping new CEO Leo Apotheker away from last month's trial to determine the amount of damages SAP owed Oracle for copyright infringement (which turned out to be $1.3 billion). Apotheker was chief executive of SAP for part of the time its subsidiary, TomorrowNow, was stealing software.

To underscore how fast relations between HP and Oracle have deteriorated, here's an HP press release from Sept. 20:

HP and Oracle Corp. today reaffirmed their long-term strategic partnership and the resolution of litigation regarding Mark V. Hurd’s employment at Oracle.

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