Global CIO: Will The Oracle-HP Alliance Survive The Oracle-SAP Trial?
In this bizarre love triangle, the Oracle-HP alliance supporting 100,000 customers might be the biggest casualty of the Oracle-SAP legal battle.
SAP will suffer minimal harm to its current reputation based on the size of the award it has to pay Oracle, or based on what is said at the trial by SAP witnesses, the most visible of whom (notably Apotheker, founder and chairman Hasso Plattner, former executive Shai Agassi, former CEO Henning Kagermann, and others) are no longer with the company (Plattner is still chairman).
Ellison's testimony will almost certainly be gripping in offering some inside views of how Oracle and SAP conduct their businesses, how they compete against each other, and how and why the theft by SAP of Oracle's software was—at least in Ellison's estimation—so damaging to Oracle.
But again, that testimony will be about events that took place a few years back and don't involve SAP's current management, other than chairman Plattner. One of SAP's current co-CEOs, Bill McDermott, is not formally involved in the trial but was in the gallery during Tuesday's proceedings, and at some point spoke with reporters outside the courtroom.
Here's how the Wall Street Journal related one of McDermott's comments, a point that I think is the only one that will carry long-term significance for both companies and their customers:
"McDermott, who was seen chatting with Oracle co-president Safra Catz in the courthouse hallways, also said the company's shared customers shouldn't be affected by the trial though he acknowledged, 'Oracle and SAP have a complex yet important relationship.' "
With the deep enmity that Ellison appears to harbor toward Apotheker, the Big Question is this: Although the litigants in this trial, who are also arch-competitors in the marketplace, appear to be willing to maintain afterward their "complex yet important relationship," will Oracle and HP be able to promise or even propose the same non-disruptive outcome to their shared customers?
Isn't it ironic that the two eye-gouging competitors whose rivalry is intensified by this trial appear to be at least willing to maintain their uneasy relationship for shared customers, whereas longtime BFFs Oracle and HP might see their 25-year alliance splintered by a court case in which HP—except for its brand-new CEO—has absolutely zero involvement?
And as far as IT-industry alliances go, the one between Oracle and HP is about as extensive as you'll find—we're not just talking about a few brochures with each other's logos on the front. From the HP website's description of its partnership with Oracle:
"Strategic partners for over twenty five years, HP and Oracle have more than 100,000 joint customers. Our accomplishments together are numerous." Among those cited are HP being the leading provider of hardware and infrastructure for Oracle apps; joint development, testing, and refinement; joint solutions for platforms, software, and middleware; benchmarking leadership; HP consulting for Oracle applications and Fusion middleware; operation of 13 HP/Oracle demo and solution centers worldwide; and, ah yes, that old line from days gone by, "executive alignment that starts at the top and runs deep."
One more mention from HP's website of just how extensive—and valuable—it considers its relationship with Oracle to be:
"HP and Oracle aim to address today's business challenges by enabling the synchronization of infrastructure, applications, services, and business processes—from suppliers through to customers—to help organizations reduce the cost of change, reduce total cost of ownership, simplify IT management complexity, and rapidly implement solutions that provide a competitive advantage."
Perhaps now, as the contentious trial heats up, is not the time for Oracle and HP to address the current status of this partnership.
But for the sake of their 100,000 shared customers, the appropriate time had better come soon.