Everybody Except Oracle and HP Wins

Michael Vizard

From the perspective of most existing Hewlett-Packard and Oracle customers, little good can come of the high-profile battle between Oracle and HP over Mark Hurd, unless maybe you're highly committed to Sun hardware.

Regardless of the merits of hiring the former HP CEO as a co-president to run Oracle operations, the repercussions will be felt throughout the industry for years. And while companies such as IBM, Dell, Microsoft, Cisco and SAP stand to gain most from an all-out war between Oracle and HP, the biggest beneficiary of all might be the open source movement. Here's how everybody except HP, Oracle and their shareholders stand to benefit:


  • IBM: In effect Oracle, with the acquisition of Sun, is essentially copying the IBM playbook. By publicly fighting with one of its biggest allies prior to the acquisition of Sun, Oracle is essentially telling their joint HP customers that perhaps a unified approach to hardware and software is the way to go. Trouble is that IBM is years ahead of Oracle in bringing those types of solutions to market.
  • Dell: For all of Dell's consumer prowess, when it comes to enterprise computing Dell is still not in the same league as HP and IBM. But with more aggressive backing from Oracle, Dell could pick up some market share at HP's expense.
  • Cisco: Despite all the hype surrounding the Cisco Unified Computing System, Cisco is still not really considered a mainstream supplier of servers. But with Oracle at war with HP, chances are good that customers will give Cisco a longer look and many of them will like what they hear.
  • SAP: Oracle has been picking up ground on SAP in the applications sector. But without help from HP, chances are good that SAP will either benefit from its existing strong ties to IBM or improve its ties with HP.
  • Microsoft: HP has already deepened its ties to Microsoft as part of an effort to forestall Cisco. Now with Oracle firmly aligned against HP, look for HP and Microsoft to aggressively go after Oracle accounts.

But as much as any one company can benefit from the war between HP and Oracle, the biggest beneficiary will be the purveyors of all things open source. In particular, more customers at the behest of HP salespeople with take a longer look at not only Linux to replace Solaris systems, they will also look at database and data management technologies such as the Cassandra and Hadoop as alternatives to Oracle databases.

Between HP and Oracle, it's hard to tell who has more to lose in the battle over Hurd. Chances are that shareholders will look back at all this and ultimately conclude that no one executive, no matter how talented, is worth all this disruption to the market.


In the meantime, Oracle and HP customers will be fought over tooth and nail. The upside is that they may be exposed to a lot of new technologies they might not have previously considered. The downside is that all that infighting among their suppliers tends to be a distraction from doing the IT job at hand.

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