Oracle Pledges Itanium Support, But Could Still Appeal Court Ruling

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Larry Ellison has had to swallow a bitter pill after Oracle announced it would continue supporting HP’s Itanium servers

Oracle will continue to support Itanium-based servers belonging to Hewlett-Packard, after the database giant lost a bitter lawsuit against the hardware maker last month.

Larry Ellison’s company will now have to ensure that it produces new versions of its database software for the HP hardware line, despite controversially announcing it would end support in early 2011, a move that angered both Intel and HP, and triggered the resulting lawsuit.

Oracle Itanium order

Oracle’s decision to continue supporting HP’s Itanium-based systems comes as little surprise, as the firm was ordered to continue supporting HP’s Itanium servers when it lost a court battle in August.

HP executives had consistently placed much of the blame for plummeting sales of their high-end Integrity and NonStop systems on Oracle’s decision to end development of its software for the Itanium platform.

But now an Oracle spokesperson has told Reuters that the company would continue support for HP’s Itanium-based machines as instructed.

Versions of Oracle software for  HP’s Itanium computers will be released about the same time as Oracle software on IBM’s Power systems, Oracle was quoted as saying in a statement.

“Oracle will continue building the latest versions of its database and other software covered by the judge’s ruling to HP Itanium computers. Oracle software on HP’s Itanium computers will be released on approximately the same schedule as Oracle software on IBM’s Power systems,” Oracle reportedly said in its statement on the matter.

Meanwhile Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined to comment when asked by Reuters if the company still intended to appeal the court’s ruling. When the company lost the battle, it said an appeal would follow.

Former Friends

Oracle’s announcement is the latest twist in a lengthy saga between two former long-term partners.

Both Oracle and HP share 140,000 or so joint customers, but the relationship between the two companies disintegrated after Oracle made a move into the hardware business with the acquisition of Sun Microsystems back in 2010. In that deal, Oracle inherited Sun’s SPARC/Solaris hardware business, which competed directly with HP’s Itanium-based Integrity systems.

Oracle’s hiring of former HP CEO Mark Hurd also further strained the relationship, as did HP’s decision to replace Hurd with Leo Apotheker, who was the former CEO of Oracle’s bitter software rival SAP.

Matters came to a head in March 2011 when Oracle said it would cease supporting HP’s Itanium servers.

The resulting HP lawsuit eventually led to Judge James P. Kleinberg of the Santa Clara County Superior Court agreeing with HP executives, who had argued that Oracle was contractually bound to continue support Itanium.

The judge ordered Oracle to not only continue support for HP’s Itanium-based platforms, but also to do so without any charge to HP.

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