HP and Oracle avoid blows over disgraced Hurd

Livermore: think what's at stake, Larry

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OpenWorld Hewlett-Packard and Oracle have sidestepped their feud over disgraced CEO Mark Hurd on the opening of the database giant's annual OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

HP enterprise business executive vice president Ann Livermore opened OpenWorld in a Sunday evening keynote that emphasized how much business her company performs with Oracle.

Livermore said the companies share 140,000 joint customers with one million Oracle users supported by HP and 40 per-cent of Oracle's software licenses running on HP hardware.

HP's storage, servers, software and services chief listed the facts just after having been introduced on stage by Oracle president and chief financial officer Safra Catz.

"HP is a long time partner of Oracle and she will share with you all the great things our two companies do together," Catz told thousands of OpenWorld attendees.

"Before I talk about that" Livermore said of her planned presentation - dryly titled Innovation through modernization and convergence that proceeded to deliver the anticipated plug for HP products and services - "I'd like to make a few comments about the HP-Oracle partnership."

Either Livermore's aside was designed to re-assure OpenWorld the companies' fraternal relationship is deep enough to survive their legal fight and personal insults, or it was a coded message to Oracle's chief executive Larry Ellison just how far he relies on HP and what he's got to lose.

Either way, nobody actually dropped the "Hurd" bomb.

HP is suing Hurd personally to stop him joining Oracle, saying he will reveal company secrets to a key competitor during the course of his work with the company.

Hurd is due to deliver the Monday morning OpenWorld keynote with systems vice president John Fowler, where they'll announce a range of Exadata OLAP servers.

Ellison - a friend and tennis buddy of Hurd - answered HP's prosecution of Hurd with a tart statement slamming HP's action "vindictive" and warning it was "making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace."

That outburst came after Ellison effectively called the HP board "idiots" for accepting Hurd's resignation when it discovered he'd fiddled his expenses following an investigation over sexual harassment lodged by former HP contractor Jodi Fisher. Ellison then went on to snub the HP board further by hiring Hurd.

For his part, Ellison - who followed Livermore on stage Sunday evening - did not reference Hurd or the HP action in his comments.

Instead, Ellison chose to bury himself in a products presentation that shamelessly repeated itself and over-ran by 35 minutes.

Ellison announced the Exalogic Elastic Cloud cloud-in-a-box server running Oracle's own Linux, he pre-announced those eight OLAP Exadata servers, and he promised the release of Oracle's Fusion Applications during the first-quarter of 2011 - Fusion was originally scheduled by Oracle for delivery in 2008.

Also, Ellison took shots at Salesforce on the cloud. Announcing Exalogic Elastic Cloud, Ellison said there are two definitions of the cloud: a platform for building and deploying applications - the Amazon EC2 model - and delivery of one or two applications on the internet - Salesforce.com.

He paired Oracle with the Amazon model and attacked Salesforce - whose CEO Marc Benioff is due to deliver a keynote at OpenWorld on Wednesday and whose company Ellison has invested in.

Ellison pulled Salesforce up for having a proprietary architecture, and for "mingling" customers' data on a platform that is not fault tolerant and provides customers a "weak" security model - even though Salesforce runs on Oracle's database software.

Catz's tact and Ellison's avoidance were to be expected as Oracle could hardly afford to alienate another partner and conference supporter. Bronze sponsor Google withdrew from OpenWorld in the wake of Ellison's decision to prosecute the search giant over claimed Java patent violations in its Android operating system. ®

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