HP Users Push Oracle to Reverse Itanium Decision

Connect, HP's largest user group, says it is trying to convince Oracle to change its decision to end support of Intel's Itanium platform.

Hewlett-Packard's largest user community is the latest group urging Oracle executives to reconsider their decision to discontinue support for Intel's Itanium platform.

In a statement released April 13, the board of directors of the HP user group Connect said it would continue to support HP and Oracle customers running applications on Itanium-based systems despite Oracle's March 22 decision. Oracle executives, saying it was clear that Intel would continue to expand the Xeon processor line and start phasing out its controversial Itanium chips, said they would no longer develop software for Itanium.

HP quickly reacted, saying Oracle's decision was a cynical move designed to bolster its own struggling SPARC/Solaris hardware business-which Oracle gained when it acquired Sun Microsystems last year for $7.4 billion-at the expense of its software customers. Some analysts have said that at least half all Itanium systems run Oracle software.

Leaders of the Connect group said Oracle's move has enraged much of its membership. In a video blog, Chris Koppe, president of the Connect board, said that in his 25 years as an HP user, nothing has affected the group membership more than Oracle's Itanium decision.

"In a time of economic challenge, it's unconscionable for any company, much less a company like Oracle, to cause such hardship on its customers," Koppe said.

"A large contingency of our community is made up of users running HP-UX and OpenVMS on Integrity servers. They are clearly disturbed by Oracle's decision to stop developing applications for Intel Itanium processors and really hope Oracle will reconsider its decision," Nina Buik, chief marketing officer at Connect, said in a statement. "HP and Oracle customers are now going to have to adjust their business plans and rethink future investments."

Oracle executives said they were making the move in the best interest of their customers. In doing so, Oracle joined Microsoft and Red Hat in becoming the third major software maker over the past two years to stop developing for Itanium. Oracle's move angered both Intel and HP. In a statement the day of Oracle's decision, David Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager of HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking business, blasted the move as "anti-customer."

"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," Donatelli said in a statement.

HP is by far the biggest user of Itanium processors, running them in its high-end Integrity and NonStop systems.

Intel executives disputed Oracle's view of Itanium, saying they had a roadmap for the platform stretching out at least 10 years, starting with the next-generation chip, code-named "Poulson." At the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing April 12, Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, said the eight-core Poulson is on schedule and will be released next year. "Kittson" is expected to be released two years after that.

As they continue to put high-end features into the Xeon processors, Intel officials have said they see customers making their decisions based on operating systems: Xeon for Windows, Linux and Solaris; and Itanium for HP-UX.

The Connect user group is urging members to leave their comments on the Connect Website, with Koppe and others hoping that the feedback will convince Oracle to change course.

HP on April 13 released comments from a number of users, all critical of Oracle's move.

"We recently made significant investments in an HP infrastructure that best supports our mission-critical computing needs with Oracle software on Integrity servers," Carol Skarlat, executive vice president and CTO at Stuller, a jewelry manufacturer and distributor, said in a statement. "Forcing customers into changing platforms impacts our business strategy and partnerships. We rely on both HP and Oracle as significant business partners in running our business. Having one partner dictate platform strategy is unthinkable."

"I am concerned about the thousands of customers which HP and Oracle share and the effect this rather abrupt and uncoordinated decision by Oracle has on the future of the applications used by these customers," Bill Pedersen, a systems consultant with Computer Consulting System Services, said. "With Oracle's announcement, our organization is exploring other database options."

In his video blog, Koppe said Oracle's announcement puts its customers in a bind, forcing many of them to have to support multiple hardware stacks, which drives up costs in such areas as procurement, power, cooling and downtime. In addition, having so many hardware environments invites complexity and interoperability issues.

He said he understood Oracle's position of wanting to reduce software-development costs around Itanium, but said such initiatives as charging customers extra for running Oracle on Itanium would have solved the company's problems while not disrupting their users' businesses.

"If Oracle was really thinking about its customers ... certainly there must have been a more customer-friendly option," Koppe said.