Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oracle Slandered Itanium To Boost Sun Servers, HP Says

In what Hewlett-Packard called a "shameless gambit" to boost Sun servers, Oracle dropped support for Intel's Itanium processor, saying it was near end of life. Intel CEO Paul Otellini contradicted Oracle, expressing support for Itanium. HP's Itanium-based servers compete with Oracle's Solaris servers. Intel said Itanium development continues.

On Tuesday, Oracle declared it is discontinuing all software development for Intel's Itanium microprocessor. The company said its decision came after "Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life." Except that Intel disputes that assessment, with Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini issuing a statement that his company remains "firmly committed" to Itanium.

This dispute has a substantial impact on Hewlett-Packard, which helped Intel develop the chips in the 1990s. Oracle and HP have been partners, but the Itanium episode is highlighting their increasingly divergent interests. Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired in 2009, makes chips that are Itanium competitors, and former HP CEO Mark Hurd now works for Oracle.

'Shameless Gambit'

Oracle added that not only is it discontinuing support for Itanium, but that both Microsoft Relevant Products/Services and Red Hat have similarly ended software support for the processor. It also noted that HP CEO Leo Apotheker "made no mention of Itanium" in a detailed presentation this week on the "future strategic direction" at Apotheker's first shareholder meeting Relevant Products/Services as chief executive.

In this battle of the statements, HP on Wednesday didn't mince words as it responded to Oracle's attempt to assign Itanium to the dustbin of chip history.

"Oracle continues to show a pattern of anti-customer behavior as they move to shore up their failing Sun server business Relevant Products/Services," HP's statement quoted Dave Donatelli, its executive vice president and general manager of enterprise Relevant Products/Services servers, storage Relevant Products/Services and networking. He added that HP was "shocked that Oracle would put enterprises and governments at risk Relevant Products/Services while costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity Relevant Products/Services in a shameless gambit to limit fair competition."

HP's Itanium-based servers, which run the HP-UX version of Unix, compete with Oracle's Solaris servers. HP contends that Oracle's abandonment of Itanium is an attempt to keep its servers from losing more market share.

Intel Remains 'Firmly Committed'

By some estimates, as much as 50 percent of HP's Itanium-based Superdome servers run Oracle, and any doubts sown by Oracle about the future of that architecture could impact buying decisions about new hardware Relevant Products/Services for the popular database software. As x86 processors increase in capability, some industry observers are suggesting HP -- if need be -- could readily port HP-UX to x86 platforms.

HP pointed to Otellini's Itanium-supporting statement that promised Intel's work on the processor and related platforms will continue "unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule." Otellini added that Intel remains "firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multigenerational road map for HP-UX" and other OSes that run on the Itanium architecture.

The Itanium road map includes Poulson, an eight-core chip that will double current performance, and then Kittson, now being developed.

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