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9/6/2010
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Hurd In, Phillips Out As Oracle President

Oracle has hired former HP CEO Mark Hurd to be its president, replacing Charles Phillips, who has resigned. Hurd will take the reins of Oracle's strategy of combining software and hardware, as it battles IBM.

Capping a weekend's worth of speculation, Oracle on Monday evening announced it has hired ex-HP CEO Mark Hurd to be its new president. In a separate press release, Oracle revealed that current president Charles Phillips has resigned that post.

Hurd's emergence as a candidate for employment at the enterprise-software powerhouse was telegraphed during the saga surrounding his exit from HP in early August. At the time, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison famously criticized HP's board of directors, telling The New York Times that Hurd's forced resignation was "the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago."

Ellison's high opinion of Hurd was similarly in evidence in the Monday press release trumpeting his new job. "Mark did a brilliant job at HP and I expect he’ll do even better at Oracle," said Ellison's statement. "There is no executive in the IT world with more relevant experience than Mark. Oracle’s future is engineering complete and integrated hardware and software systems for the enterprise. Mark pioneered the integration of hardware with software when Teradata was a part of NCR."

Hurd will actually be one of two executives holding the title of president at Oracle. Safra Catz, who has served as co-president alongside Phillips, will maintain that title going forward. As former CFO of Oracle from 2005 to 2008, Catz brings deep financial expertise to the executive suite. As for Hurd, he's expected to focus on boosting the company's strategic product initiatives.

Indeed, Ellison is widely viewed as having tapped Hurd to help whip Oracle's hardware strategy into shape. Oracle completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in early 2010, and is in the processing of fielding bundled hardware-software products, which typically combine Sun's server hardware with Oracle's enterprise software. The offerings are marketed with the message that such combos offer tuned performance which outpaces what competitors can deliver.

Oracle's Exadata V2 database machine is a prime example of the company's hardware-software combinations. Along with making the case for Exadata, Hurd will also likely expend effort on creating a more cohesive story line around the Sun servers Oracle now sells.

Hurd spoke to this in Monday's press release. "I believe Oracle’s strategy of combining software with hardware will enable Oracle to beat IBM in both enterprise servers and storage," he said in the statement. "Exadata is just the beginning. We have some exciting new systems we are going to announce later this month at Oracle OpenWorld. I’m excited to be a part of the most innovative technology team in the IT industry."

As for outgoing president Phillips, his exit after 29 quarters follows a recent tough patch. In 2010, a purported ex-mistress rented a billboard in New York's Times Square, trumpeting her alleged relationship with him.

This past July, Phillips received what amounted to a public rebuke from Ellison, who gainsaid Phillips's statement that Oracle has a $70-billion acquisitions war chest. (You can read Bob Evans's take on that here.)

Today, both parties professed mutual admiration, with Ellison characterizing Phillips's departure as something he had a hand in initiating. "Charles has evolved our field culture toward a more customer-centric organization and improved our top line consistency through a period of tremendous change and growth," Ellison said in the statement. "When Charles approached me last December and expressed his desire to transition out of the company, I asked him to stay on through the Sun integration which has gone well. We will miss his talent and leadership, but I respect his decision."

For Further Reading

Global CIO: Resurrecting Mark Hurd: Larry Ellison's War With IBM;

Global CIO: Larry Ellison And Mark Hurd: The Job Interview;

Global CIO: Oracle Execs Offer Deep Insights Into Company's Soul ;

Oracle's Fowler Says Systems Performance About To Explode;

State Of Server Technology.

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