Companies running Oracle software on HP's big servers will have to make choices. Here are the well-known migrations paths, a few unheralded options, and possible unintended consequences.
In the wake of Oracle's decision to end further application and database development on Hewlett-Packard Itanium servers, there's one thing both vendors actually agree upon: If you're a customer running these servers, don't panic.
Oracle will continue to support its Itanium-based software for five years. After that, it will offer extended support (entailing additional fees) for three years. So HP, too, wants you to know that you won't have to dump your HP Integrity servers this year, next year, or, technically, any time until somewhere between 2015 and 2018.
Support isn't the same as development, however, so as a practical matter, sticking with Itanium hardware (or Oracle software, if you look at it that way) will get increasingly painful as Oracle introduces new application and database features that are available only on other platforms. Given enterprise software deployment time frames, that probably won't hurt much for a year, maybe two.
But sooner than later, as Oracle customers start taking advantage of new software features, the abandoned Oracle-on-Itanium customers will have to make a move. HP and the Connect HP user group have started a spirited social networking campaign to try to persuade Oracle to change its stand, but let's assume it stands firm. What are you going to do?
Intel and HP have sworn up and down that they're committed to Itanium, and they've unveiled a chip roadmap that extends to 2016 as their proof. But that roadmap hasn't stopped customers from noticing x86 server price/performance gains. They also read statements from chip executives like Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, that Xeon x86 chips offer reliability and performance that is "now equal -- and in some cases better -- than Itanium," and they start to wonder why they should hang with Itanium.
One such Oracle-on-Itanium customer is Todd Sheetz, manager of database administration and enterprise architecture at Veolia Environmental Services. Last summer, Sheetz migrated a key Oracle database off of HP Itanium onto an Oracle RAC (clustered) environment running on Linux and HP x86 servers. Veolia took that step in preparation for moving its PeopleSoft financials app onto the new platform.