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HP Sues Oracle, Demanding Itanium Support

Soap Opera of the Tech Giants Continues

 You knew this was coming, right?

After Oracle utterly ignored HP's demand letter of a week ago insisting that it continue to churn out software for Itanium-based servers that practically nobody but HP sells and even HP doesn't sell that many of, HP sued Oracle Wednesday in California Superior Court claiming breach of contract and labeling its one-time ally a "bitter antagonist."

The suit is heavily redacted but HP managed to work Oracle's hiring its ex-CEO Mark Hurd, now Oracle's co-president, into the complaint and to charge Oracle with using "strong-arm tactics to coerce customers into replacing their HP servers with Sun servers they do not want."

There are also libel charges.

Oracle cancelled further development on Itanium in March claiming the chip was approaching end of life, a statement Intel denied although Oracle claimed Intel executives told it so.

Oracle said in a press release Wednesday that HP knew of Intel's plans to terminate Itanium long before Oracle and that it was covering "to mislead customers and shareholders into believing such plans don't exist."

It denied HP's claim that Oracle broke an agreement to support Itanium. It said that last September "HP explicitly asked Oracle to guarantee continued support for Itanium, because HP already knew all about Intel's plans to discontinue Itanium, and HP was concerned about what would happen when Oracle found out about that plan" but Oracle refused, and HP's Itanium support-guarantee wording was deleted from the final signed agreement.

What Oracle said exactly was that "What we know for certain is that [HP's non-executive chairman] Ray Lane and HP's current board members and [HP CEO] Leo Apotheker and HP's current management team now know full well that Intel has plans in place to end-of-life the Itanium microprocessor. Knowing this, HP issued numerous public statements in an attempt to mislead and deceive their customers and shareholders into believing that these plans to end-of-life Itanium do not exist. But they do. Intel's plans to end-of-life Itanium will be revealed in court now that HP has filed this utterly malicious and merit-less lawsuit against Oracle."

HP claims it's acting in the customers' interests and in defense of the big investments they've made in the widgetry. The suit seeks damages and an injunction telling Oracle not to make false statements about Itanium processors and servers.

For all its denials, Intel does go around saying its mainstream Xeon chip is now sturdy enough to support any workload and pretty much matches all Itanium's features.

Oracle's not the only one to give up on Itanium. Microsoft and Red Hat have also thrown in the towel.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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