HP Partner: Oracle Itanium Statement Desperate

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

American Digital, both an HP and an Oracle channel partner, says Oracle's recent statements around Itanium smack of desperation as the acquirer of Sun attempts to stem the market share losses around Sun hardware. Meanwhile, IBM also points to large market share gains and competitive migrations at the expense of Sun hardware.

Oracle's abrupt decision to end support for the Intel Itanium high-end server platform came as a shock to channel partners and customers alike, and according to one solution provider, the move smacks of desperation as Oracle loses market share for high-end Sun servers.

Bill Loupakos, senior vice president at American Digital in Arlington Heights, Ill., is one of them. The solution provider, which covers a five-state area, is both an HP and an Oracle partner. He was surprised by the Oracle announcement earlier this week.

"We think they are getting desperate," Loupakos told Channel Insider. He noted that back in February Oracle/Sun announced a "Cash for Clunkers" program to encourage customers to trade in their HP-UX servers for Sun SPARC servers. The campaign was laughable, Loupakos said, because customers are mostly looking to trade in their Sun servers for something else.

"All the Sun hardware customers are looking to migrate to HP platforms," he said.

And IBM is claiming some of that Sun market share, too, according to IBM. The company noted that IDC's Q4 2010 server market share report said that in the Unix space IBM's share was at 53.9 percent, gaining 5.9 points of share over competitors. In addition, IBM says nearly 400 customers migrated from competitive systems to IBM Power Systems in the fourth quarter, including 235 from Oracle/Sun and 135 from HP. There were nearly 1,200 competitive displacements to IBM Power Systems from Oracle/Sun, HP and others throughout 2010, IBM said.

Loupakos also noted that his company, which began as a partner of Digital Equipment Corp. before Intel gained those engineers for its Itanium line, is currently deep in the sales cycle for Oracle software on HP Itanium servers with some customers. Oracle's announcement regarding Itanium has created confusion and concern for those customers.

"This is doing nothing but delaying [Oracle's] revenue," Loupakos told Channel Insider. "Now customers are skeptical about going for Oracle."

Loupakos said that Oracle did not provide partners with any kind of warning about the change in stance on Itanium, and his company is still waiting for more information on when Oracle will discontinue support for the platform. In the worst case scenarios, vendors have given at lease a year of notice for ending support.

"We always like to give our customers a 3 to 5 year plan," he said.  "This makes it hard to do that."

American Digital has between 20 and 30 very large Itanium customers.

"We are going through some damage control here," he said. But he noted that Intel has just announced two more generations of Itanium.

Oracle's announcement is "confusing customers and it's confusing solution providers.

"It seems like we are going back to the old days of hardware that is either IBM or DEC and there's no in-between. That's bad. That's not channel friendly at all."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com