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Could Oracle buy HP?

Should it?

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One way for Oracle to solve HP's CEO problems is for it to buy HP and re-install Mark Hurd as CEO.

This isn't quite as off the wall as it sounds. The idea has been mentioned by Silicon Valley Watcher Tom Foremski. He suggests that an Oracle-HP combo would be strong enough to compete against "all of IBM."

Umm, apart from the joy it would bring to the hearts and output of business and technology journalists everywhere, and the buckets needed to hold the moisture dripping off salivating investment bankers, is it a good and feasible idea?

HP is currently capitalised at $90.6bn with Oracle larger at $121.33bn. That means Oracle would have to tender shares rather than cash. Any Oracle bid would send HP's shares shooting up in value and a cost of $100bn plus would be hard to finance.

Set the financing aside for the moment. Foremski thinks there would be terrific consolidation opportunities to take cost out. A combined Oracle/Sun/HP behemoth could share the same back office functions. HPs CIO, Randy Mott, the man who slimmed down its data centre estate, could be let loose on the entire operation's IT infrastructure and play cost-cutting and consolidation games to his heart's content.

That side of Foremski's suggestion makes sense, but what about cleaning up the products, where there would be tremendous server overlap, with Itanium, SPARC, and Intel processor-based systems. The Sun and HP Intel systems could be consolidated and, maybe, the Itanium ones put out of their, apparent, misery, unless there was sufficient business there to keep the things, or Oracle could say it doesn't need both SPARC and Itanium, and move the two to a single processor architecture, with one getting tossed away in the trash.

HP's blade server architecture products have a great reputation and Oracle could go back to making Exadata machines with HP technology if it wished.

On the networking side it's all gain and very little pain for Oracle with the HP Networking stuff being a terrific general addition to what Oracle and Sun have already.

On the storage side at first glance HP would solve major problems for Oracle, with Sun's mid-range storage generally thought of as uninspiring. Comically, Oracle could junk a Hitachi USP-V-based relationship all over again, and develop the 3PAR technology to cover more of the enterprise storage array space. The MSA (P2000), LeftHand (P4000) and EVA (P6000 to be) would provide much more storage market coverage than Sun gives Oracle too.

On the services side the HP-acquired EDS services operation ought to be a terrific addition to Oracle's existing services operation; again, with much consolidation and cost-savings opportunities.

From the point of view of staffing Oracle could combine its own Sun's and HP's sales force, and make significant headcount savings.

But the awesome unlikeliness of Oracle buying HP and re-installing Hurd as its head is just too much to contemplate … isn't it? ®

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