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Oracle, HP should graduate from kindergarten, user says

Oracle’s decision to stop supporting development on Itanium has left companies like Swiss department store Manor in the lurch.

Manor is a multi-billion dollar Swiss department store chain. But ever since Oracle announced earlier this year that it would stop supporting Itanium customers, executives there feel more like a customer caught in the middle of a slap fight between megavendors.

“Oracle and HP really need to work together and just get out of kindergarten,” said Olaf Leonhardt, OpenVMS and storage-area network manager for Manor. “We don’t want a war between Oracle and HP.”

The feud between HP and Oracle stretches back to last year, when then HP CEO Mark Hurd resigned over irregularities in expense reports. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, a friend of Hurd, felt that the HP board forced Hurd out and took offense. He subsequently hired Hurd as co-president of Oracle. Meanwhile, HP replaced Hurd with Leo Apotheker, the former CEO of SAP and a big rival of Oracle and Ellison. Needless to say, relations between the two companies further deteriorated. In March, Oracle announced it would stop development of future software on Intel’s Itanium chip, which runs mainly on HP servers.

Here’s the thing, though: Customers running Oracle Database on top of Itanium – like Manor – don’t care about the feud. They care about running their business. The last thing they want is an unexpected announcement that could uproot their IT infrastructure and potentially cost them millions.

“People feel like they’re putting the squeeze on customers,” said Nina Buik, president of Connect, an HP user group. “This was a decision they had no part in, and there is a trust issue that has been breached. The rug was pulled out from under the customer.”

Leonhardt isn’t putting 100% of the blame on Oracle, either. Leonhardt would like to see HP port OpenVMS – the operating system Manor runs its Oracle Database on – to x86. That would give Manor the option of migrating to x86 and getting back support from Oracle.

Buik said if HP were to port OpenVMS to x86, it would have to assist the independent software vendors (ISVs) that work with OpenVMS.

“OpenVMS is a great platform and has been around for years,” she said. “But the ISV market is shrinking and some of them are on life support. If HP were to say it wants all of them to port to x86, it might end up being the kiss of death. It costs money to port.”

In the meantime, Manor will continue to run Oracle Database 10g and hope Oracle and HP can have a kumbaya of sorts. Apotheker has left SAP, with Meg Whitman replacing him. So Leonhardt said there is hope.

“At this time, personally I cannot trust HP or Oracle,” Leonhardt said. “I am stuck in the middle.”

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