Divorce is never pretty, especially when kids are involved. All too often, squabbling parents forget that children aren't pawns in a legal chess game and ignore their primary responsibility: taking care of the kids at all costs.
That's what's going on now as Oracle and Hewlett-Packard toss verbal and legal Molotov cocktails (IEDs, for you younger readers) over the future of Itanium and Oracle's decision not to develop new software to run on Intel's 64-bit processor. The two companies have about 140,000 joint customers, and the prospect of being left orphaned has them scared, confused, and angry, says Nina Buik, the chief marketing officer of the 53,000-member Connect, an HP user group.
"Our members feel they are getting a raw deal in a squabble between two corporate giants," she tells me. More specifically, many of those 140,000 joint customers run an Oracle database on Itanium-based hardware from HP, and the prospect of having to change platforms is freaking them out, says Buik. The morning after Oracle said in March that it wouldn't develop for Itanium any more, Connect's discussion board was flooded with hundreds of comments, many blaming Oracle for the dispute.
The fight got even uglier last week when HP filed suit against Oracle, claiming that the database giant has failed "to live up to and simple promise to work with HP in the interests of both companies' mutual customers." The complaint goes on to accuse Oracle of "strong-arming" customers in an attempt to force them to move to Oracle's Sparc servers (acquired in the takeover of Sun) by refusing to fix bugs in software running on HP's high-end servers, a charge Oracle denies.
The FUD is flying
There's a huge amount of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) flying around this dispute. Most puzzling, Oracle says it has stopped Itanium-related development because Intel plans to kill the high-end chip in just a few years, a contention that Intel denied immediately. Yet Oracle executives say publicly and privately that they will prove that point when the dispute goes to court.