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12/8/2010
11:14 PM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Larry Ellison Vows To 'Go After' HP; Is Alliance Dead?

Calling HP's high-end computers vulnerable, slow, and expensive, Ellison promised to pound HP in the marketplace—this is an "alliance?"

Ever since Hewlett-Packard ousted Mark Hurd four months ago and later replaced him with former SAP CEO Leo' Apotheker, Larry Ellison has blasted the HP board and Apotheker several times, questioning their competence, their intelligence, and their integrity.

But Ellison has been careful in confining his tongue-lashings to the board and to Apotheker, and has avoided bashing longtime strategic partner HP itself.

Until now.

During his introduction last week of some powerful new systems and his announcement of Oracle achieving a new world record in database speed, Ellison hammered HP's hardware products in general and its servers in particular, ridiculing them for being pitifully slow and going so far as referring to HP's top-of-the-line Superdome as "Turtledome."

Not exactly the sort of commentary that CEOs generally make about fully committed strategic partners, is it?

Most ominously for the future prospects of the 30-year Oracle-HP alliance, Ellison promised on three separate occasions that Oracle's new high-end systems would provide the means by which Oracle would "go after" HP in the marketplace.

Lest you think I'm overstating the case, here's Ellison in his own words from my transcription of his remarks at a Dec. 2 webcast of the debut of the Sparc Supercluster. As this excerpt opens, Ellison is describing how Oracle's new system handled itself versus an HP system and an IBM system in a controlled trial of database performance:

"So: how did we do? We have all these great technologies and we put 'em together and tested it to see what kind of performance we'd get. Well let's go back down memory lane a little bit and look at how the other vendors are doing in database," Ellison said.

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"HP's got their biggest machine and it's called the Superdome—it's a fast machine, it's a big machine, it runs on a chip called Itanium from Intel and they actually got up to 4 million transactions per minute on one big honkin' Superdome—the biggest thing they could put together," Ellison said.

"And that's the best HP has ever done: 4 million. That's HP's claim to fame."

Ellison then brought up the next slide in his presentation, and this one showed HP's performance at 4 million transactions per minute and IBM's at 10 million per minute. Ellison pulled out his knife and took his first swipe at HP:

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