Oracle Stops Development of Oracle for Itanium
Update: June 20, 2011
On June 15, the following lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court
of the State of California, County of Santa Clara: Hewlett-Packard
Company v. Oracle Corporation, 11CV203163. The essence of the
suit is that Oracle Corporation stands in breach of an agreement with
HP to continue development and support for the Intel Itanium
processor, an integral component of HP's current server roadmap.
Oracle has issued statements regarding their available support options
for existing customers on Itanium platforms and contends that no such
agreement for continued development exists.
A press release issued by Oracle Corporation on the same day the
suit was filed includes the following statements:
"What is true is that HP explicitly asked
Oracle to guarantee continued support for Itanium; but Oracle refused,
and HP’s Itanium support guarantee wording was deleted from the final
According to the press release from Oracle, HP's request to Oracle
for their long-term commitment to Itanium came back in September,
2010. It was not until six months later that Oracle learned of
Intel's plans to phase out the Itanium chip. Oracle counters
HP's allegation of breach with the argument that HP had early
knowledge of Intel's intentions with regard to Itanium and with that
knowledge strategically moved to secure long-term support of their
Itanium-based servers by Oracle before the software giant was aware of
At this point, it looks like the parties are headed for a formal,
legal resolution of the issue of the existence of and/or breach
thereof an agreement between the two IT giants over the future of the
Itanium-based servers as part of their respective futures. An
equally interesting outcome of this lawsuit will likely be a clearer
idea of what Intel's plans for Itanium really are.
June 13, 2011
In March, 2011, Oracle Corporation announced that it has plans to stop
development for the Itanium platform. This decision was made
based on Intel's plans to phase out the
Itanium processor. Oracle continues to develop software for
x86 processor family. Oracle did have discussions with Intel
regarding this change, and the following information was provided in a
statement by Oracle:
Intel senior management
Oracle has decided to discontinue all software development on the
Intel Itanium microprocessor. Intel management made it clear that
their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium
was nearing the end of its life."
Seeing as how Microsoft and RedHat have both already
stopped developing software for Itanium, the announcement from Oracle
should not have come as a shock. In the server market, industry powerhouses
Dell and IBM dropped their Itanium development as far back as 2005.
In the interest of protecting their customers'
investments to date, Oracle will be continuing to offer support
options for their customers on current versions of Oracle on
Itanium-based servers. The goal is to help customers transition
smoothly to non-Itanium platforms. There are three stages of
support available through Oracle's lifetime support policies for
customers that choose to transition away from Itanium.
The complete Oracle software stack will continue to
be delivered and supported on a variety of current, popular platforms.
Customers transitioning away from Itanium platforms will be able to
consider Intel x86-64 and Sun/Oracle SPARC architectures, among
others. With the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Oracle
obtained Sun SPARC microprocessor technology along with the
mission-critical server platform. This technology has
historically been in competition with Intel Itanium.
But where does Oracle's former technology partner,
HP, weigh in on this announcement?
Color them none too pleased.
HP has put pressure on Oracle to reverse its
position on the plan to cease software development for the Itanium
platform. A letter, the specific contents of which remain
undisclosed for confidentiality reasons, was transmitted to Oracle
from HP just last week. The premise of the letter is alleged to
be to a declaration that HP will hold Oracle to its prior commitments
to HP and its customers. HP's statement charges that Oracle's
" ... violates legally binding commitments
Oracle has made to HP and the more than 140,000 shared HP-Oracle
It is clear that HP is expecting a response from
Oracle on these charges.
HP's Integrity servers are produced with the Itanium
chip. There is a variety of application development companies
that have targeted this specific platform based on the availability of
the Oracle product stack.
HP has apparently taken specific offense at the statement by
Oracle that their decison was made after discussions with Intel over
the future of the Itanium chip. There are rumblings from HP that
Intel has roadmapped the future of a next generation chip that with
its new microarchitecture would keep Itanium competitive in the market
for years. With confidence in this information from Intel, HP
has reportedly included the Itanium processor in its ongoing mission-critical
Based on this commitment, the office of HP's chief
spokesman, Bill Wohl, released a statement summarizing the actions
taken by Oracle as:
" ... an unlawful
attempt to force customers from HP Itanium platforms to Oracle's own
The June 8, 2011 letter from HP is purported to
include legal demands that Oracle reverse its decision on cessation of
development for the Itanium platform.
Sources in HP say that Oracle was not given a response deadline,
and to date, no public response from Oracle has been released.