HP Comes Out Victorious From the Oracle-Itanium Debacle

A sizable portion of Hewlett-Packard’s high end- storage systems are powered by Intel’s Itanium chip, and before Oracle acquired Sun, the database giant committed to producing software for the architecture. That changed after the buy.

Sun Microsystems was a direct competitor to HP, and through the acquisition Oracle gained access to the company’s rivaling data center equipment portfolio.  Under pressure to justify the $7.4 billion investment, Larry Ellison’s firm broke loose from a three-decade alliance with HP.

Two years after the Sun takeover, Oracle decided it would stop supporting some 130,000 joint customers and halt the development of its Itanium software. Hewlett-Packard took this matter to court in 2011, and the manufacturer finally had its way this week.

Santa Clara Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg ruled that Oracle is in fact obligated to fill its part of the bargain. The DB kingpin claimed that Itanium is nearing its end of life and is therefore not worth supporting, but the court’s official stance is that a contract is a contract.

“Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined comment when asked if the company still intended to appeal the court’s ruling,” Reuters reports. “Oracle said on August 1, the day of the ruling, said that it planned to appeal.”

Oracle’s argument does have some merit. Itanium, launched in 2001, suffered from a number of delays before actually hitting the market and came very close to becoming a commercial failure. Intel might pull the plug on the product in a few years’ time for all we know, but  this in itself, along with a few other claims including that the aforementioned contract between Oracle and HP,  just wasn’t enough.

This case hit several milestones since the 2011 filing. The last one was back in March.