I'm more of an observer/analyst of IT trends rather than a fast-breaking news guy, so I've waited until I could gain some perspective before jumping into the HP-Oracle dust up over the latter's decision to halt development for the Itanium platform.
If you get a kick watching highly educated top-level business executives behave like school children, it started last week when Oracle said this, followed by HP saying this, to which Oracle responded with this. Intel got into the fray as well, with this.
Despite all the testosterone flying around the room, the fact is that in business, there is no right or wrong, fair or unfair. There is only winning and losing. So in that regard, it only makes sense to shift our attention away from whether Oracle is being a big, fat meanie to whether the decision will be a net gain or loss for Oracle.
And on that score, I can unequivocally say ... it depends. About the only thing I can definitively say is that Oracle is taking a huge gamble here on a success or failure that could shift the company's market value by billions and produce either the dominant IT vendor for the next decade or just another "also ran" in the quest to take over the world.
To win the gamble, Oracle is counting on one of two things to happen. The first, as pointed out by The Register's Timothy Prickett Morgan, is that it will get more of the Itanium sales and support action and greater support for other Oracle products in return for returning Itanium to its good graces. That's what happened last year when Oracle pulled HP's Solaris OEM contract -- a move that pushed IBM out of the Solaris market altogether but ultimately led to HP and Dell giving Oracle a bigger piece of the pie.
The second possibility, and the one that Oracle seems to favor although it's unclear how well customers will go along, is for enterprises to migrate their Oracle databases to Sun hardware. This would certainly be the best thing for Oracle, considering it sank $7.4 billion into Sun just last year, and certainly it's not unreasonable to think many users would be willing to ditch their Itanium machines as they transition away from HP-UX to lower-cost Linux platforms. However, the move to Linux would primarily accompany a shift to x86, not to a SPARC Enterprise server, so it's not clear whether the one migration would lead to another -- particularly if it resulted in greater single-vendor dependence with Oracle.
Still, Oracle has the hottest database technology around, and if you don't want to run it on Sun you're free to try it on any other platform, heh, heh, heh. This, in fact, is the part that has everyone so steamed. At a time when interoperability and integration under virtualization and cloud are gaining ground, Oracle seems bent on running an old-style Apple gambit: the best software, but only on our hardware.
In the end there will be a winner and a loser. This could be a big hit to Itanium, but it could hurt Oracle DB as well ... badly.