Playing the Oracle Itanium Card

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Customers Weigh In on Oracle Itanium Controversy

It's pretty clear that many IT organizations are dubious of Oracle's motives.

Any seasoned politician will tell you that occasionally they find it useful to create an artificial "crisis" in order to move a certain agenda forward. Clearly, Oracle must have the same thought in mind following its announcement to discontinue support for its database on the Intel Itanium platform. But those same politicians will tell you that creating an artificial crisis more often than not winds up blowing up in your face.

A new survey conducted by the Gabriel Consulting Group makes it pretty clear that a majority of IT organizations are skeptical of Oracle's motivations given its recent acquisition of Sun. The general feeling is that Oracle is trying to cost justify that acquisition by pushing customers to migrate to Sun SPARC platforms, which ultimately would also serve to reduce Oracle's costs.

Oracle is hardly alone in eschewing Itanium. Both Microsoft and Red Hat have passed on the platform as well. But Dan Olds, a principal with Gabriel Consulting, notes that those are easy decisions for Microsoft and Red Hat to make because their products are not typically found in high-end data centers where the Itanium plays. In addition, Oracle may also be trying to harm Hewlett-Packard, which sells a fair number of Itanium servers that frequently host Oracle databases.

The issue that Oracle may have made a miscalculation about is just how loyal customers will stay. IBM, for example, intends to continue supporting DB2 on Itanium, says Dan Wardman, IBM vice president of information management mainframe software. If customers decide at a later date they need to move to DB2 on a Power Series server or mainframe, Wardman says IBM will be just as happy. But in general, there will be no pressure to do so.

Whether the Oracle Itanium issue proves to be a tempest in a teapot remains to be seen. But when you start treating customers like pawns in a chess game, it won't be long before they start looking for another option that doesn't leave them wondering when some vendor might decide they are expendable.

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