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Judge Rules Oracle Must Continue Porting Software To Itanium 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the stick-around dept.
angry tapir writes "A California court has ordered Oracle to continue porting its software to the Intel Itanium chips used by Hewlett-Packard in a number of its servers. Last year, Oracle, which competes with HP in the hardware market but shares many customers with the vendor, announced it would cease supporting Itanium. HP filed suit in June 2011, maintaining that Oracle was contractually bound to continue supporting Itanium."
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Judge Rules Oracle Must Continue Porting Software To Itanium

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  • by imemyself (757318) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:37AM (#40852291)
    Hahahahaha! Not that I really think there's any use in prolonging the inevitable with Itanium, but I just love hearing about Oracle getting fucked.
    • by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @01:01AM (#40852417)
      But...cue the horribly glitchy, barely working, piece of crap Itanium port edition rofl.
      • by CheshireDragon (1183095) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @01:58AM (#40852679) Homepage
        yup, I kind of see patches and other developments coming very slowly to glitchy software. No where does it say how fast they have to code and release patches. i see problems ahead. Usually the bully picks on the kid too hard and the kid comes back and shoots up the whole school....eh, bad analogy
      • It doesn't even need to be bad. The fact that it's a dead platform that is only supported as the result of a lawsuit ought to set off warning bells for anyone considering buying it. As soon as the agreement expires, it's going to be dropped. It's also likely to be a wake-up call for anyone still using Itanium: if even Oracle (a company well known for being motivated solely by money and willing to support anything if they think there's a dollar in it) won't support it without legal pressure, then no one e

        • by ifrag (984323)

          willing to support anything if they think there's a dollar in it

          I think Oracle would request a great deal more cash than 1 dollar.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          At this point, the only possible reason for using Itanium is that you have a large OpenVMS deployment.

          Some people are forced by a software vendor to upgrade from their perfectly-working Alpha AXP systems to an Itanic with vastly more power than they need because of OS upgrades.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            This looks like the perfect opportunity to switch platforms - maybe something like SparcServers

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              This looks like the perfect opportunity to switch platforms - maybe something like SparcServers

              Nice irony. But the upgrade path from Digital Unix on Alpha doesn't lead to a SPARC anyway, it leads to HP-SUX on Itanic, or at least it did. I know of at least one case where this was the only option presented (other than "good luck getting your data out of our databases and into another system") that resulted in an otherwise unnecessary move from a quad Alpha to an eight-way Itanic.

        • Re:Not an Oracle Fan (Score:4, Informative)

          by Niomosy (1503) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @11:45AM (#40856833)

          The Tandems / NonStop servers also use Itaniums.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Actually I would argue that Oracle wins friend, simply because having this public lets everyone know that if a major software house has to be forced to support your platform? Well it's deader than BeOS friend, time to abandon ship.

      I bet what little Itanic sales HP had are gonna dry up and blow away like a fart in the breeze and all Oracle has to do is provide some buggy half assed ports to comply with the ruling, certainly not gonna sell Itanic with those.

      Lets face it folks Itanic was a BAD idea, just like

  • Sure it's the Itanic (Score:5, Informative)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:41AM (#40852309)
    But if Oracle was stupid enough to agree to support a chip for a long period based on Intel and HP's suggestion of everlasting server dominance, then they deserve what they get. Oracle should have bothered to do a little research, and if they had they would have realized Itanium was the turd most of us "little people" figured even at the time.The term Itanic wasn't coined yesterday or for no reason Mr Ellison.
    • by sangreal66 (740295) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:57AM (#40852383)

      They actually made the agreement when Itanium was already dying (2010). It was (a vague) part of the settlement when HP sued them for hiring their former CEO

      At least, that is what I got when I RTFA

      • by WiiVault (1039946)
        Fair, but I didn't read it quite the same. Either way, even if one agrees to shitty terms, they are still bound; unless illegal- not the case here. The fact that it had to do with Hurd just adds to the drama nothing more. From TFA it sounds like they are stuck rearranging deckchairs on the S.S. Itanic until HP kills it. That's ano doubt a shitty deal for them to agree to, especially for the Hurd turd. But again, nobody forced them to agree to this. And like one of the poster's mentioned, I'm sure their new
        • by jonwil (467024)

          What I want to know is what advantage HP gets by sticking with the good ship Itanic instead of just switching their kit over to say Ivy Bridge Xeon chips...

          • by Chirs (87576) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @02:33AM (#40852843)

            They likely have big enterprise customers that have spent oodles of money customizing the software. It's not just a matter of recompiling at that point.

          • by walshy007 (906710) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @02:37AM (#40852859)

            It's about the large enterprise customers, they bought into itanium and want continued support for it. Asking a gigantic company (the clients who bought itanium) to change architectures or use a mix of them in a short period is a quick way to lose the customer.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Backwards compatibility with Pa-Risc, AFAIK. Those HP/UX - and whatever their mainframe-ish OS is called - machines aren't going to start running on x86 overnight.

            • by Niomosy (1503)

              They've got the HP 3000s which run MPE/iX but that was EOL'd so I'm not sure if that's what you were referring to, though they do run on PA-RISC.

              They've also got Tandems which are considered mainframes by some.

              Honestly, I think HP can move the Tandems and OpenVMS to Xeons, though OVMS may be a bit of work.

          • by Shimbo (100005)

            What I want to know is what advantage HP gets by sticking with the good ship Itanic instead of just switching their kit over to say Ivy Bridge Xeon chips...

            They will use a proportion of their HP-UX and OpenVMS customers during the port, just as they did when they abandoned Alpha and PA-RISC. It's a profitable business for them to take the support money, and do the occasional hardware refresh.

            Even if HP did do the ports, third party suppliers aren't going to be rushing to port to HP-UX/OpenVMS on x64. What would Larry say about a port of Oracle do you think?

        • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @06:24AM (#40853883) Homepage Journal

          GNU/Hurd, please. Don't set Stallman off again.

  • Silly Oracle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:58AM (#40852399)

    Do you *really* want to depend on a forced port?

    One that the developers' heart isn't in?

    One that their company puts all their least competent people on?

    One were a few deliberate bugs would be just as bad for you business as not having a port at all - if not worse?

    (And how are you going to prove in court that a bug is deliberate, unless some manager is stupid enough to send the order to the developers by e-mail.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think you are vastly overestimating the amount of effort to support Itanium.

      Because Oracle already supports several platforms, most of the code will already be platform-neutral. That means the specific changes they'll have to make will be minimal, and may even consist of just re-enabling (and updating) previously working code. The major cost will be in testing and certification the newly supported configurations.

    • Re:Silly Oracle (Score:4, Insightful)

      by steelfood (895457) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @01:47AM (#40852619)

      Agreed. The difference between "supported" and "not supported" more or less amounts to whether a support drone logs a ticket or not when you call in. Especially where Ellison (who is only slightly less evil than the RIAA and MPAA) is involved, there's no "spirit," only "word" of the law.

      Obviously, Oracle will honor their contract with HP. If the contract can be honored by poor-performing 60-year old guys trained in supporting S/370s somehow managed to squeak by and not be forcibly retired (not that all 60-year old guys supporting IBM mainframes are poor performers), then so be it. And if those guys throw their hands up in the air after a few hours on site, because in reality they have no idea what they're doing, as long as the contract does not stipulate a time limit before fixing each problem, then that's fine too.

      Good luck, HP. Dealing with Oracle is a step down from dealing with the devil. At least the devil actually gives you what you asked for (while all the numerous ancillary things somehow end up going horribly wrong).

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Having dealt with with Oracle support, I'm almost sure that any problems that arise with Oracle's newly-ported software will be hardware/hp related and they won't to shit.

        Short of actually showing the part of code that is faulty, I've never had oracle step-up and patch anything. The upside is I've learned a lot in quite a short period of time.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Not necessarily. Oracle has to weigh up the cost of being further sued by HP for not putting in any effort against the cost of actually making some effort. I imagine they least they will do is the least they have to in order to avoid being sued.

        Courts generally seem to be quite harsh when dealing with people who try to flout previous rulings.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      OTHO, the software will still represent Oracle to customers. Deliberate bugs and deliberately substandard support will just be their own foot they're shooting. Their sales managers will *not* like dealing with that, so it's unlikely.

    • Well if it is under contract then yes they better damn support it and pay up to HP.

      Do you really x is irrelevent if Oracle signed a contract with Digital/HP back in the day. The US constitution itself guarantees protection of contracts as evil as Oracle or else dimwitted and inept HP is. There is real damaged too as HP lost money relying on a contract from Oracle. Larry probably just assumed the increase of revenue from former OpenVMS, HP-UX, and other other platforms will pay for the lawsuit itself.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A lot of us still put our best effort into whatever our job is, even if the corporation didn't want to do it.

      So don't assume that the quality of the development work will decrease due to the corporation being uninterested in the product.

  • Rehire fired workers? Or doesn't HP feel its own statements should be binding? :-)

    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      Being a trustworthy hardware entity isn't really the HP Way since at least the late 90's. Now it's just the same shit Dell and Acer and the rest sell, but with a roll of the dice CEO and enough money from printers to pretend that they still have anything to bring to the table. Innovation is a four letter as they have selected the role of yet another OEM. HP used to be awesome, now... not so much. Still Oracle laid their bed on this one, and HP is just treating them the way they would have treated HP if the
      • by Billly Gates (198444) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @02:11AM (#40852731) Journal

        Being a trustworthy hardware entity isn't really the HP Way since at least the late 90's. Now it's just the same shit Dell and Acer and the rest sell, but with a roll of the dice CEO and enough money from printers to pretend that they still have anything to bring to the table. Innovation is a four letter as they have selected the role of yet another OEM. HP used to be awesome, now... not so much. Still Oracle laid their bed on this one, and HP is just treating them the way they would have treated HP if the roles were flipped.

        They still support old mainframe boxen from a different era running VMS, HP-UX, Non-stop and I think Tandom? These things run nuclear power plants, air traffic control systems, financial markets, and things that IBM still makes money today. These are not your typical XP to Windows 7 migration issues upgrading boxes but are part of decades old infrastructure. HP acquired some hardcore players like Digital back in its day.

        True I have not even seen opensource software work on VMS ports of perl and apache since the beginning of the century. No new customers and my guess is they are supporting old.

        But still you are right with new purchases and this pulling of Itanium has scared the crap out of customers who are already investing in crappy wintel or lintel replacements in clusters for many things that are not industrial scale.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          They still support old mainframe boxen from a different era running VMS, HP-UX, Non-stop and I think Tandom?

          As a mainframe sysprog, recently escaped from HP, I can assure you that at least the boxen I was working on wasn't 'old'. It was a state-of-the-art Z196, capable of running thousands of linux images under VMS with essentially cross-memory comms between the images and the the z/OS LPARs, and virtually 100% uptime.

          Give me a mainframe running linux images to front end the mainframe over a swarm of crappy, consumer grade X-Boxes any day.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Ummm, what?

            Z196 isn't HP, it's IBM.

            VMS doesn't run on z/OS LPARS; VMS is HP and z/OS is IBM.

            What the hell are you talking about?

          • by cmdrbuzz (681767)

            You mean MVS (as in now called zOS) not VMS which is the ex Digital / Compaq OpenVMS.

            zOS / MVS is IBM not HP....

            • by bws111 (1216812)

              MVS (now z/OS) does not "run thousands of linux images." In fact, it doesn't run even a single image of any type - it is not a VM hypervisor. The product that runs linux guests is z/VM.

              I think that the AC just picked up a bunch of jargon (sysprog, LPAR, z196, VMS, etc) from an article on mainframes, threw them together, and got the clueless slashdot mods to mark him "insightful". Pretty pathetic.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    From the article:
    "For approximately three decades, these corporate giants dealt on an informal basis," Kleinberg wrote in his decision. "Even when the financial consequences were in the billions, they shared resources, worked together, supported mutual customers, and with only a handful of exceptions did so without a written contract."
    HP had "every reason to believe" the settlement agreement "was consistent with 'business as usual,'" Kleinberg added.
    Overall, Oracle's statements amounted to a valid contract

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You miss-read that. The judge pointed out that even when they *didn't* have a contract, they had (for decades) worked together in good faith on huge, and expensive projects. In the face of that past behavior, HP's belief that Oracle would *honor* the terms of a settlement agreement (which is a contract), was beyond reasonable, and Oracle doesn't have a leg to stand on with regard to reneging on that agreement.

  • No one in their right mind would invest money in this now and have already started porting their apps to Windows or Linux.

    This reminds me of when Sun cancelled x86 solaris only to reintroduce it. Corporate customers shunned it and software vendors stopped supporting it which caused customers to shun it more in a perpetual loop.

    The only people running VMS, HP-UX, and Windows on Itanium are not upgrading or buying new. Just keeping their existing infrastructure or moving or are in the process of moving to a m

  • by khb (266593) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @02:50AM (#40852919)

    While I found it somewhat surprising, it isn't totally amazing. The Judge reviewed the totality of the joint corporate history and ruled. While it's inevitable that Oracle will appeal, IANAL but successful appeals usually require there to be an error in Law, not in "Fact". It seems to be a finding of "Fact" (there's little doubt that if there was a valid contract, it's a contract ;>).

    As for Oracle then producing intentionally buggy software that would be unprofessional and begging for suits from the customers (who tend to be Fortune 100 companies, with their own nasty Legal departments).

    It is not clear to me from the media coverage if Oracle is required to do the work for free (or, if like Intel, HP can/must pay for the work done on their behalf). Or if Oracle still has to do the work, how many boxes will HP have to ship Oracle for Development and Testing (that's another way to potentially extract pounds of flesh from HP).

    • by Targon (17348)

      Fortune 100 companies would move away from a DEAD platform, and that is what Itanium is at this point, a dead platform that never got enough traction for ANYONE to really want to support it. HP is foolish to continue selling a dead platform, and there was more of a case to continue supporting webOS than Itanium.

  • I thought that the remedy for breach of contract in common law systems was for the parties to be restored to the position they would have been in had the contract not existed. Hence, I'm very surprised that in this case the judge reportedly is compelling someone to do something against their will other than pay damages. Is this standard practice in California, is this really a voluntary settlement, or will it be overturned on appeal?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, the remedy is to restore to a position they would have been in had the contract been properly performed.

      Injunction or specific performance (i.e., directing a party to do something "against their will") are very common remedies when monetary damages are not adequate.

  • Google case, now this one... wow. Oracle is not my favorite company, extremely dislike their support services etc...

  • I can see it now: Oracle does a quick and dirty (read: half-assed) job of porting their RDBMS to Itanium, and assigns an intern for bug fixing.

    What could possibly go wrong (for HP).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's face it: this has little to do with the relative quality or potential lifeline of the Itanium family. Oracle simply wants to force folks to use Oracle hardware. Not supporting Itanium is just another way to eliminate competition for their Sun/Oracle servers.

  • What's to stop Oracle from taking the Homer Simpson solution? ("When you don't like your job, you don't strike. You just go in everyday and do a half-ass job.") In other words, the judge can order them to port their software to Itanic, but can the judge really order them to do a good job of it? How would this even be measured? Is the judge really going to be acting as a de facto project manager, holding Oracle in contempt of court if there are too many bugs? (Imagine how much they'd have to pay people to wo

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      The companies using Oracle on Itanium are not just HP's customers, they are also Oracle's customers. Oracle has competitors (IBM, Microsoft) who will happily come in and say 'remember how Oracle tried to force you to move to a new hardware architecture, and how crappy their product and support was when they got told they couldn't do that? We won't do that to you.'

  • Not to say that Oracle database doesn't already suck, but now Oracle is being forced to maintain their database for a platform they see as unprofitable. Oracle cares only about profit, remember, and Itanium is, objectively, not a profitable platform. And not to say that they already have much incentive to do a good job, but now for Itanium, they have even LESS incentive to do a good job. So if you thought Oracle was a nightmare already, just wait until you see what a horror show it'll evolve into over th

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      The companies using Oracle on Itanium are mostly large companies, and they are customers of Oracle (obviously). A number of those customers are probably already looking to move to a vendor that won't abandon them like Oracle tried to. The ones that aren't looking to change vendors now surely will be driven to change vendors if Oracle exhibits behavior like you suggest.

      Oracle may have tried to quietly drop support for Itanium, and hoped that only the few Itanium customers would notice. HP did not let th

  • For all the criticism of the Itanium chip spewed at Intel over the years, the reality is that Itanium is an HP design. HP did not have a means to produce their "vision" on their own, so they partnered with Intel as an HP/Intel product.

  • I can't see this as a real win for anyone. Basically the judge has forced a friendship; akin to a school teacher making two kids that hate each other play together on the playground. In the end HP looks weak as it exposes their dependence. And Oracle wins because they still have an in with customers.

    HP customers will be happy that HP fought for them, but the exposure that HP does not have a real database to call their own becomes blarringly obvious.

    Oracle can be the big winner if in fact they not only su

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