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Bob Evans
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Silicon Valley Crackup: Oracle & HP Killing 25-Year Alliance?

After nearly three decades of close collaboration, the HP-Oracle alliance is disintegrating in the wake of severe friction between top-level executives at each company.

Until recently, a page on HP's website describing its alliance with Oracle said, "Strategic partners for over twenty five years, HP and Oracle have more than 100,000 joint customers."

"Our accomplishments together are numerous," it went on, pointing out that the partnership is based on "executive alignment that starts at the top and runs deep."

But the link to that page detailing happier days is now as dead as a doornail—and that also seems to be the still-unofficial but nevertheless accurate description for the one-time sprawling and mutually beneficial partnership that HP and Oracle enjoyed for close to three decades.

While neither company would confirm that a formal breakup has occurred, top-level executive changes at the formerly close partners have sparked such tension and harsh words between the two companies that each has begun preparing for a near-term future as head-to-head competitors instead of close collaborators.

Oracle declined to comment on the matter, and late yesterday HP released this statement from vice president Mike Crowsen, who oversees the Oracle Alliance: "Oracle is an important partner, and HP will continue to work with them to deliver the solutions that our clients need."

But high-level contacts with intimate knowledge of the partnership said it has largely unraveled and that each company believes it is in the other's crosshairs since former HP CEO Mark Hurd went to Oracle and was replaced at HP by longtime SAP executive and Oracle nemesis Leo' Apotheker.

What I find most striking about this situation is the considerable exposure each company seems fully willing to undertake in dissolving a 25-year alliance that both companies have recently said is engaged with 140,000 customers. Not 140, not 1,400, not 14,000—but 140,000!

Here's a partial overview of what the HP-Oracle alliance was—is?—involved in:

*The companies billed HP as the leading provider of hardware and infrastructure for Oracle apps;

*Offered joint development, testing, and refinement;

*Developed joint solutions for platforms, software, and middleware

*Collaborated on "benchmarking leadership";

*Offered HP consulting for Oracle applications and Fusion middleware; and

*Operated 13 HP/Oracle demo and solution centers worldwide.

(Much more information on the range of the collaborative efforts can be found here.)

And in a section of the HP website detailing the frazzled partnership called "Customer Stories", HP offers this rather intimate portrayal of the depth of the companies' shared commitment:

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