HP Threatens to Sue Oracle for Ceasing Intel Itanium Support

HP Vows to Take Legal Actions to "Protect Customers' Investments" into Itanium Hardware

by Anton Shilov
06/08/2011 | 11:05 PM

Hewlett-Packard this week sent a letter to Oracle Corp. demanding to reverse the latter's decision to stop designing new software for HP's servers that are based on Intel Corp.'s Itanium microprocessors and use HP UX, OpenVMS or NonStop operating systems. In case Oracle does not reverse its decision, HP threatens to take a legal action against its partner, which is also its competitor.


“It is our hope that Oracle will honor its commitments to HP and to our shared customers. However, if Oracle continues to disregard its commitments, and continues to engage in conduct designed to deny choice and harm competition, we will take whatever legal actions are available to us necessary to protect our customers and the significant investments they have made," a statement by HP reads.

Bill Wohl, HP’s chief communications officer, said that Hewlett Packard and Oracle share around 140 thousand customers. It is not completely clear how many of them actually use HP Integrity/Superdome mission-critical servers that are based on Intel Itanium microprocessors. There are estimations that at least more than two thirds or Itanium customers use Oracle DB software.

Typically, business critical machines are used by large companies, who make huge investments into their datacenters. Such significant customers have strict roadmap in place when and what to acquire or upgrade as well as a return on investment plans. At present such customers are extremely frustrated as they should decide whether continue to use HP UX-based servers (or any other servers with Itanium) with Oracle software that will become outdated in several years from now, or switch to systems that will be supported by newer Oracle software.

Recently Oracle said that it would cease to develop software for Intel Itanium processors and will concentrate on creation of applications for its own Sun SPARC- based machines, IBM Power-based systems as well as various x86-based servers. Intel Itanium-based systems are currently available from HP and SGI with the former commanding the lion's share of the IA64 business with its servers running HP-UX. A substantial number of servers powered by HP's version of Unix also runs Oracle software and therefore those, who use HP-UX Itanium-based machines now will have troubles upgrading servers with new software from Oracle.

While officially Oracle said that its decision to drop Itanium support from future programs was motivated by the fact that Intel Xeon processors can easily serve mission-critical applications, it is believed that the move was motivated by the company's intention to improve positions of Sun SPARC servers on the market of mission-critical systems.

There is also confusion about Oracle’s intentions to support Red Hat or SUSE Linux; several customers reportedly said that their Oracle sales teams had told them that Oracle would not support either of these variants in the future, but only Oracle’s own branded Linux.