Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Oracle Accuses HP of “Campaign of Secrecy and Deception” Over Itanium

Just as I expected, Oracle filed its amended cross-complaint against Hewlett-Packard in the Itanium lawsuit a little while ago, and aside from all the redacted bits that clearly cover up some juicy reading, it’s still pretty interesting. I’ve embedded the whole 43-page filing below, via Scribd.

Oracle paints a picture of HP desperate to preserve the profits it makes on support and service contracts generated from customers using Integrity servers, cutting arrangements with Intel to keep pumping out Itanium chips that no one but HP buys, and which Intel would secretly like to forget in order to focus on its highly profitable line of mainstream Xeon server chips. Oracle describes an agreement between HP and Intel called the “Itanium Collaboration Agreement” and calls it a “a pure pay-off to induce Intel to keep churning out processors that it really wanted to kill.”

Here are some other interesting highlights. Remember yesterday how I said that the main issue, at least from HP’s perspective in this suit, is whether or not Oracle agreed to continue to port its software to HP-UX so that it could run on HP’s Integrity servers that use Intel’s Itanium chip.

HP has argued that when the two companies settled a lawsuit concerning Oracle’s hiring of former HP CEO Mark Hurd, that Oracle agreed to do just that. Oracle has argued that it agreed to no such thing and so is perfectly within its rights to walk way from the Itanium platform.

Pick up the action on page 27. You read how, as Oracle tells it, HP sought to insert language into that settlement that included an Oracle pledge to stick with Itanium, which Oracle rejected twice.

It quotes an email from Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley to HP lawyers proposing the following langauge in a draft agreement:

Reaffirmation of the Oracle-HP Partnership. Oracle and HP reaffirm their commitment to their longstanding strategic relationship and their mutual desire to continue to support their mutual customers. Oracle will continue to offer its product suite on HP platforms and HP will continue to support Oracle products (including Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM) on its hardware in a manner consistent with that partnership.

HP, Oracle says, then responded with the following proposed language:

Reaffirmation of the Oracle-HP Partnership. Oracle and HP reaffirm their commitment to their longstanding strategic relationship and their mutual desire to continue to support their mutual customers. Oracle will continue to offer its product suite on HP platforms and HP will continue to support Oracle products (including Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM) on its hardware in a manner consistent with that partnership. Oracle will continue to support all ongoing versions of HP-UX with Oracle’s relevant database, middleware and application products with the availability, marketing and pricing in competitive terms that Oracle has provided HP for the past five years. Oracle will continue to provide access to the Java technology and tools such that HP can continue to support its operating systems (e.g., HP-UX, OpenVMS, Nonstop) in a manner similar to the way it does today. Oracle agrees to continue to provide Solaris for HP’s x86 platforms in a manner similar to what it provides HP today. Oracle agrees to continue to purchase HP server hardware for internal use at a rate similar to what Oracle purchases today.

Oracle rejected it, and by its account, no mention of Itanium or HP-UX was in the final version of the settlement that both signed. The final version was nearly identical to the draft that Daley proposed above. This sequence of events and what the final version of the agreement actually says will be a key issue in the trial. A lot of the rest of the stuff is a bit of Oracle bluster, though it’s interesting bluster.

For instance, Oracle accuses HP of having “fraudulently induced Oracle to enter into the very contract” at the heart of the lawsuit, by negotiating at a time when people on the HP side would have known that the company was about to hire Léo Apotheker and Ray Lane as CEO and chairman. As Oracle puts it:

“Given the well-documented animosity between Oracle and Messrs. Apotheker and Lane, HP knew that had Oracle known of HP’s imminent plans to hire these individuals, Oracle would not have signed the Hurd Agreement, especially any ‘partnership’ commitments or other business restrictions … unrelated to Mr. Hurd’s move to Oracle. … HP had a duty to disclose this exclusively-held material information. Instead, HP knowingly and actively withheld this information.”

HP naturally isn’t taking the latest round of accusations from Oracle silently. The company just issued a statement basically accusing Oracle of trying to distract us all from the fact that it’s in breach of a contract. And the key phrase in the contract — all that back and forth between the Oracle and HP lawyers above — is this one: “An agreement to continue to work together as the companies have,” meaning work together as they did when Oracle still supported Itanium.

This all started back in March when Oracle said it would stop software development for Itanium. It prompted a lot of shocked and angry pronouncements from HP and Intel and counter-claims from Oracle. Itanium customers then rallied to its defense and sought to change Oracle’s mind. It didn’t work. Months passed, and HP resorted to a lawsuit in June that has seen many colorful arguments, and even the odd pop-culture reference.

HP’s press-release rebuttal is below and the full PDF of Oracle’s filing — complete with all the redactions is below that.

PALO ALTO, Calif., Dec. 2, 2011 – HP today issued the following statement in response to Oracle’s amended cross-complaint in the Intel Itanium litigation:

Today’s filing is another example of Oracle attempting to distract from the undeniable fact that it has breached its contractual commitment to HP and ignored its repeated promises of support to our shared customers.

Here are the facts:

— On Sept. 20, 2010, Mark Hurd, Oracle and HP entered into a written settlement agreement. Pursuant to that agreement, HP dismissed its lawsuit against Hurd, and did not further challenge Hurd’s employment at Oracle. In exchange, Oracle contractually committed that it would “continue to offer its product suite on HP platforms … in a manner consistent with [the Oracle-HP] partnership as it existed prior to Oracle’s hiring of Hurd.”

— Oracle confirmed that it was agreeing to continue to port its software products to HP’s platforms in the same manner as it had done prior to its hiring of Hurd. In an email sent to HP on Sept. 12, 2010, Oracle’s general counsel wrote that this provision was “an agreement to continue to work together as the companies have – with Oracle porting products to HP’s platform and HP supporting the ported products and the parties engaging in joint marketing opportunities – for the mutual benefit of customers.”

— Oracle now claims that this provision does not require Oracle to continue to port its database and other software to HP’s platforms. Yet that is exactly what the contract says, and that is exactly what Oracle committed to do in order to convince HP that Oracle’s hiring of Hurd would not alter the relationship between the companies or be used unfairly to undermine HP’s business.

— Oracle initially tried to justify its Itanium decision by falsely ascribing to Intel the position that Itanium is at end of life. Due to Intel’s unequivocal and repeated statements to the marketplace that Itanium is not at an end of life, Oracle has been forced to revise its rationale.

— In its cross-complaint, Oracle tries to rationalize its Itanium decision by arguing that, despite the undisputed existence of committed support for Itanium that stretches to the end of this decade and beyond, Intel would not have made this commitment to Itanium if it were not for a contractual agreement with HP.

— The existence of such a contract completely undermines Oracle’s stated rationale for discontinuing Itanium support by taking the future of Itanium out of the realm of speculation and firmly establishing as a matter of undeniable fact that there is a committed Itanium roadmap that extends out toward the end of this decade. Oracle has the relevant Itanium roadmaps in its possession, yet it continues to refuse to discuss those roadmaps.

— What has become very clear in the course of the litigation is that Oracle’s claim in March 2011 that it was ending support for Itanium because Itanium was at or near an “end of life” was false and a pure pretext to hide Oracle’s real purpose: to take away the choice of Itanium from customers and restrict the competition faced by its Sun servers.

— Indeed, Oracle’s internal documents make clear that its announcement in March 2011 that it would no longer develop or support software for Itanium servers was implemented as part of a business strategy to leverage Oracle’s dominance in database software to try to force Itanium customers to purchase Sun servers. The tactics employed by Oracle in support of this purpose included pricing misconduct, withholding of benchmarking scores for HP servers run on Oracle software, and abusing customers on support issues.

— Oracle is in breach of its contractual commitments to HP, and it has failed to honor its promises to customers. Oracle should be addressing and rectifying this conduct rather than making up claims against HP.


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