Server Den: HP Fires Back At Oracle: 'Ellison Bought A Money Losing Business' - InformationWeek

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12/10/2010
12:25 PM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Server Den: HP Fires Back At Oracle: 'Ellison Bought A Money Losing Business'

Hewlett-Packard appears to have had enough of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s bashing, and is answering back in a statement that minces no words.

HP is firing back at the persistent dissing it's received at the hands of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, ever since HP forced out chief executive Mark Hurd in August. HP sent me a statement in which it minces no words about who it thinks is the top server vendor, and what it thinks of Oracle's claims of benchmark superiority; I'll get to that below. First, some context.

The most recent Oracle salvo came on Dec. 2. As Global CIO guru Bob Evans noted in his column, Ellison went after HP's servers at Oracle's UltraSparc Supercluster introduction:

"We're one big cheetah, and IBM's a stallion . . . and HP's a Turtledome," said Ellison with a huge laugh. ["Turtledome" is an arch reference to HP's high-end Itanium 2-based Superdome servers.--Editor] . . . We think the HP machines are vulnerable, we think they're slow, we think they're expensive, we think they're vulnerable in the marketplace, and we're gonna go after them."

What's mystifying about Ellison's approach is the fact that HP and Oracle are partners. Here's a quote from the Sept. 20 press release, HP and Oracle Reaffirm Commitment to Long-term Strategic Partnership, which appears intended to bury the hatchet after the bad blood over Hurd:

" 'Oracle and HP will continue to build and expand a partnership that has already lasted for over 25 years,' said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison."

Sure, tech companies often compete against the very same companies with which they cooperate--it's called "co-opetition." What's unusual is the level of vitriol Ellison has hurled at HP.

HP's Response

My entree into this contretemps comes because of a column I wrote Dec. 2, Wolfe's Den: Why Oracle's Sun Servers Are Sinking (And Why That's A Good Thing).

The piece praised Ellison's focus on the emerging category of optimized systems--tuned hardware/software platforms--at the expense of the commoditized server business Oracle took control of when it acquired Sun Microsystems.

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