IT Infrastructure: HP vs. Oracle: Ellison, Hurd, Otellini Head Lineup of Expected Witnesses
The bitter legal dispute between Hewlett-Packard and Oracle over Intel's Itanium chip platform has now reached the courtroom, putting on full display the splintering of a once-close relationship that began more than two years ago when Oracle announced it was buying Sun Microsystems. HP and Oracle had at one time been close partners, with many joint customers running Oracle's database software and other enterprise applications on HP's high-end Itanium-based Integrity systems. However, when Oracle bought Sun, the deal included Sun's SPARC/Solaris hardware business, putting the software maker in direct competition with HP. The relationship has since deteriorated quickly. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison blasted HP's board of directors in 2010 for forcing then-CEO Mark Hurd to resign, then soon after hired Hurd as president. HP sued Hurd, claiming a breach of contract. The legal dispute was settled, but soon would crop up again. Ellison was further angered when HP hired former SAP CEO Leo Apothekera key rival of Ellison and Oracleto replace Hurd; Apotheker's tenure lasted less than a year. The crux of the current case is Oracle's decision last year to end software support for Itanium. HP sued, claiming it violated an agreement in the Hurd settlement that the two companies would continue to support each other's products. Oracle countersued, saying HP essentially lied by not admitting that it was paying Intel to keep Itanium alive. In order to keep help readers keep this cast of high-powered tech executives straight, eWEEK highlights some of the key players listed as possible witnesses in the trial, which started June 4.
Mark Hurd is at the center of the case. A close friend of Larry Ellison's, the two reportedly discussed merging the two companies, and another time talked about jointly buying Sun. When Hurd was forced to resign over his personal conduct, Ellison blasted the board, calling the move "the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago." It's the wording in the settlement that ended the legal dispute over Oracle hiring Hurd that is at issue in the Itanium case.