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HP, Microsoft take joint aim at Oracle

Patrick Thibodeau | June 9, 2011
LAS VEGAS -- Hewlett-Packard says that its customers run more databases and applications from Oracle on its hardware than any other vendor out there does. But if you are at HP's big user conference this week and interested in talking to Oracle, you won't find the company listed as an exhibitor on the expo floor.

"To be clear, there is still five to six years of support for Oracle on Itanium, so customers don't need to jump now -- most customers are looking at this as long term," Miller said.

Miller said HP is nonetheless responding to customers who are looking for choices, something it does for other platforms as well, such as IBM.

Allison said Oracle's decision on Itanium "does put us in an awkward spot," but he added, "I'm sure we've got very talented engineers that can fix whatever breaks."

John Belliveau, a senior systems engineer for a financial services firm he requested not be identified, said he was interested in HP and Microsoft's data warehouse offering, particularly because of its licensing and costs.

But Belliveau cautioned that in terms of data warehousing, "it is one thing to announce at a conference that you are taking [Oracle] on, but it's another thing to prove that you really belong in the same ring, the same space."

Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, said he sees little for HP's Oracle customers to sweat over. "The real question to consider is how far and how deeply this schism between the companies goes," King said. "As an undying optimist, I hope Oracle and HP work things out, but if that proves impossible, users have numerous other options," including shifting to other platforms.

"Migrating to an entirely new hardware and software stack is far less onerous today than it ever was in the past," King said. "HP and Oracle would be wise to keep that in mind."

HP and Microsoft are also putting a lot of effort into the development of appliances, systems that are preconfigured and sized for workloads. The advantage to this approach, say vendors, is rapid deployment and little to no integration.

Doug Leland, general manager of product management in Microsoft's Business Platform Marketing Group, said, "There is no question that the growth in terms of database technologies is shifting to appliances and is shifting to cloud," primarily because of the economics and rates of growth on these platforms.

But not every user is ready to move to appliances. Daryl Butler, a network engineer for a telecommunications firm he asked not be identified, said that he likes Microsoft's direction but that when it comes to deployment, "I'm more old school -- I really don't like all-in-one," referring to an appliance. "For a larger enterprise, it's easier to scale it outside of an appliance."


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