LOYAL ITANIUM SUPPORTER HP has managed to get the Spanish National Competition Authority (CNC) to investigate Oracle for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the database market.
HP and Oracle have been at each other's throats for the best part of a year, with a former HP CEO leaving the firm under a cloud only to join Oracle weeks later. What really kicked things off however was Oracle's decision to dump support for Intel's flagging Itanium architecture in its products, a move that both Microsoft and Red Hat had already announced for their products months earlier.
That announcement essentially left HP, the biggest supporter of Intel's Itanium architecture, flogging servers with no current software running on them. HP has already taken Oracle to court in the US, but it complained to the CNC that Oracle was essentially breaking anti-competitive rules with its decision to "suspend all their development for Intel Itanium processors".
HP claimed that the decision resulted from a change in the way Oracle priced its software back in December 2010.
The CNC said that the initiation of investigation does not "prejudge the final outcome of the investigation", meaning that just because the CNC is investigating, it doesn't mean any wrongdoing on Oracle's part has been uncovered. The investigation can last up to 18 months.
HP, which co-developed Itanium's IA-64 architecture with Intel, has tried to push the processor architecture as hard as it can. The truth is with Intel itself positioning its Xeons in the realm of high availability servers, Oracle's decision to stop wasting time developing for an architecture that has even less marketshare than its own Sparc is understandable.
The reason why HP didn't kick up such a fuss when Microsoft and Red Hat decided to pull the plug on their IA-64 development programs is that HP provides its own operating systems - HP-UX, OpenVMS and the former Tandem Nonstop. And given that Itanium servers are used in mission critical systems, it's hardly likely that many enterprises were using any Microsoft software in the first place.
However with Oracle it is different. Oracle is still the database vendor and companies are likely to be far more willing to change hardware kit rather than change database software.
HP might be doing its best by its own engineering teams and its Itanium customers, but even if the CNC comes out in favour of HP, it is likely to be a temporary reprieve before Oracle and others ditch IA-64 for good. µ