Oracle Users See Itanium Move as Only a First Step: Survey

IT pros expect Oracle to end support of IBM Power systems and up costs for users of non-Oracle Linux OSes to force users to adopt all-Oracle platforms, said a Gabriel survey.

Oracle's decision in March to end development of software products for Intel's Itanium platform was the first in a series of steps the software giant will make to force customers to adopt all-Oracle hardware and software solutions, according to IT professionals in a recent survey.

Half of the 450 IT pros surveyed by Gabriel Consulting Group-94 percent of which are Oracle users-believe Oracle eventually will stop supporting IBM's Power systems, while more than half said Oracle will increase costs for users of non-Oracle Linux variants, such as that from Red Hat. About 37 percent said Oracle likely will increase costs for Microsoft customers.

In the figures released by the market research firm May 2, a majority believe that such competitor-specific moves will hurt Oracle more than they will help.

In general, "Untargeted moves [such as releasing new software on its own platform first] are seen as somewhat helpful to Oracle, while potential actions that single out particular competitors are judged as ultimately harmful to Oracle," Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting, said in a statement. "We think that when respondents looked at the targeted actions, it made them think about the non-Oracle platforms in their own data centers and how the Oracle move might affect their own organizations. ... Customers perceive these moves as Oracle trying to force them into actions they don't necessarily want to take. If Oracle goes down these roads, it's going to be interesting to see if customers react in the way that Oracle desires."

Oracle officials announced March 22 that they no longer will support Intel's Itanium platform, claiming that Intel engineers informed them that the giant chip maker was looking to phase out Itanium in favor of its high-selling Xeon processors. The decision drew a quick rebuke from Intel executives, who said that they had road maps for Itanium going out 10 years. Officials with Hewlett-Packard-by far the top user of Itanium chips, and whose high-end Integrity servers run large amounts of Oracle software, particularly databases-accused Oracle of cynically harming customers in hopes of hindering HP's HP-UX business while propping up the struggling SPARC/Solaris products Oracle inherited when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010 for $7.4 billion.

In its "What's Up with Oracle?" survey of IT professionals, Gabriel Consulting tried to get a gauge of customers' feelings toward Oracle's decision. In the first results of the survey released April 25, most customers believed Intel rather than Oracle in the debate about Itanium's future. In the second part, 85 percent said they expect Oracle to continue down this line as it tries to force customers to adopt an all-Oracle platform, while most said they don't expect Oracle to reverse its Itanium decision.

"We were surprised by the large number of customers who see Oracle pursuing a grand plan that's designed to put Oracle's system and [OS] competitors at a competitive disadvantage," Olds said. "Customers quite clearly expect Oracle to pull out all the stops to use their power in software to give their hardware a leg up. They really see Oracle pushing hard to get customers to adopt all-Oracle infrastructures."

Most said the competitor-specific moves designed to force customers into such all-Oracle infrastructures will hurt the software vendor more than help it, according to Olds. However, some moves will more likely help the company in the medium and long term. More than 40 percent said such moves as releasing new software versions on Oracle platforms or adjusting licensing and support costs will help Oracle.