I'm no longer involved with HP-UX and Itanium but I've been an HP-UX geek for 10 years, and some of the readers of my previous blog (aptly named Technocrat-UX) were following me specifically for my comments on that market. I'm no analyst, but anyway my advice is free so here are my thoughts on this story which was unraveled today.
I'm not surprised about Larry's decision to stop development of Oracle on Itanium. It was just a matter of time before Oracle would try different stunts and measures - any measure - to try to save their SPARC platform and lock in customers. This one is a desperate measure indeed. I know a lot of SAP system administrators who won't be delighted to learn this. Some have been claiming for a while that Oracle is the new CA, and this couldn't be more true. If I was still an HP-UX admin, I'd be directly targeted by this decision. But I wouldn't say "Fuck HP". I'd say "Fuck Oracle", big time.
How does that look for HP-UX? Without an enterprise RDBMS, not good. Not good at all. But all is not over for Integrity. Rob Enderle picked up the story today and revealed some interesting information that was shown to him under an NDA:
Unfortunately for Oracle, HP just had a massive analyst event and in the server break-out had showcased under NDA the future for Itanium in new products. While I can’t share that future, it is NDA, and for those of us in the session there was no doubt that Itanium is going to continue. More importantly, the changes being made should make it vastly more cost effective than anything Oracle can announce on SPARC. You’ll understand what I mean in a few months, or if you have an HP relationship, ask HP what I’m talking about and you’ll have a big “ah hah” moment. But you won’t be able to share it any more than I can.
I've been thinking about his statement, trying to read between the lines. Here is my own speculation of what may be ahead. Note here that he's talking about the Itanium platform, there is no mention of HP-UX anywhere in his post. What can I make of this?
Here is what I know:
1. Enderle says that the new platform will be "vastly more cost effective than anything Oracle can announce on SPARC".
2. I bet that Microsoft are probably annoyed by Oracle (sorry, no time this evening to find an article to back this up).
3. I've learned from a trusted source (without signing a CDA) that the DL785 will retire and only the DL580 and DL980 series will be left. Which anyone can deduct from HP's web site, there is currently no G7 offering of the DL785.
...and here is what I predict:
1. Microsoft will be looking for an enterprise-level platform to harness MS-SQL, which has become over the years the "other" enterprise RDBMS.
2. All my current architecture projects are based on MS-SQL and I've learned a little about its licensing recently. This is software priced per CAL or per processor/socket (your choice), and each processor costs - well, costs a lot of money. Customers with thousands of users will want to get the most bang out of every processor they use. Does that sound like a return of Windows and MS-SQL to the Integrity platform? Hard to say if MS keeps a similar pricing with Tukwila's four cores, but it is possible. Microsoft could offer this as a vertically integrated solution pitched to customers who are currently relying on Oracle (or IBM's) solutions.
3. To cater to these mid-size Microsoft customers who aren't interested in blades (let alone Superdome 2s) for a reason or another, HP will release something like the rx5800 and rx9800 which will be based on the industry standard components of the big Proliants - namely, the 580 and 980. These are reliable and huge workhorses. By swapping only a few components, they'll save plenty and be able to offer these servers at a small premium over the x86 versions.
4. As for HP-UX? While the outcome isn't clear, I frankly don't expect Oracle to really stop releasing their RDBMS on HP-UX; I'm sure there are plenty of customers left and some bean counter at Oracle will realize the high risk of loosing them forever if a migration to SPARC is shoved down their throats. If they keep their stance, their loss. I haven't cared about Oracle for a while now.
These are my thoughts.