Oracle's Ellison, Intel CEO Otellini Top Witness List for Oracle, HP Trial

Mark Hurd, Ann Livermore and Safra Catz also are potential witnesses in the upcoming trial over the dispute between HP and Oracle over Intel's Itanium platform.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Mark Hurd, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and current Oracle president, are among those listed to testify in the upcoming trial between HP and Oracle in their dispute over Intel€™s Itanium platform, a case that is generating a lot of headlines this month.

The executives were among almost four-dozen witnesses listed in a May 14 court filing in the case, which is expected to start later this month or in June.

At issue is Oracle€™s decision last year to discontinue software development for Itanium chips, a move company officials said came after hearing from Intel engineers that the giant chip maker was planning to kill off the controversial platform in favor of its more popular x86-based Xeon server processors.

HP officials accused Oracle of trying to force joint customers off HP€™s high-end Itanium-based servers and onto the SPARC/Solaris systems the software maker inherited when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010. HP is suing Oracle for allegedly breaking an agreement the two companies had to support technologies used by their 140,000 or so joint customers. HP claims the agreement was part of the settlement ending litigation over Hurd€™s hiring by Oracle.

Oracle has countersued, accusing HP of false advertising by not being truthful with customers or the industry about what officials said is the imminent demise of Itanium, and for failing to disclose that HP has paid Intel more than $500 million to keep Itanium development going. Executives with both HP and Intel€”including Otellini€”have disputed Oracle€™s claims about the chip€™s future, saying that Intel€™s product road map for Itanium runs for much of the decade.

Interest in the case has ramped up in recent weeks after Santa Clara Country Court Judge James Kleinberg refused requests by HP and Oracle to dismiss key portions of their each other's case, and a lawyer for Oracle told the judge that there was little if any chance the two sides could reach an agreement in the case. HP is seeking $4 billion in damages from Oracle.

On May 16, Oracle posted an open letter to customers along with several court exhibits€”mostly internal HP memos€”that draw a picture of an Intel tired of losing money on Itanium and a desperate HP that, after considering several options that included buying Sun, decided the best alternative was essentially paying Intel more than $500 million to continue developing Itanium. HP is by far the top Itanium customer, and has based its high-end Integrity and NonStop servers on the chip platform.

Oracle officials pointed to the documents as proof of Intel wanting to kill off Itanium as early as 2007, and HP trying to keep that from happening and to keep news of the possibility from getting out to the industry and customers. In response, HP officials have said the documents prove the long-term viability of Itanium. Some industry observers see the payments from HP as smart moves to protect its Business Critical Systems (BCS) unit.

The witness list carries some well-known names from HP, Intel and Oracle. Aside from Hurd€”who was CEO of HP until August 2010 and then became a president at Oracle€”other notable witnesses from HP include David Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager of HP€™s Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking unit; Ann Livermore, a long-time HP executive, who at one time was considered a viable candidate for CEO; Martin Fink, who at one time was senior vice president and general manager of BCS; and Cathie Lesjak, executive vice president and CFO at HP.

For Oracle, the list includes company President and CFO Safra Catz; John Fowler, executive vice president of systems at Oracle and a former Sun executive; and Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of product development.

From Intel, the list includes Otellini; Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel€™s PC Client Group; and Renee James, senior vice president and general manager of Intel€™s Software and Services Group.