One of the more intriguing aspects of the IT industry is that businesses are often both great friends and bitter enemies at the same time. Oracle and IBM provide a great example. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison could hardly have been more vitriolic in his attacks on IBM’s hardware business at OpenWorld last September. Ellison used the introduction of Oracle’s Exalogic Elastic Cloud line of servers to make any number of caustic remarks about the IBM hardware it was developed to go after.

At the same time, the decades old relationship between IBM and Oracle’s JDE business remains as strong and cordial as ever. The latest example is the IBM i Solution Edition for JD Edwards .  Its purpose is to reduce the cost, complexity and risk of installing JDE applications on Power i servers. With it the effort needed for initial installation (or upgrading to a new release) can be reduced dramatically. The need for experts with deep CNC skill has also been reduced for those taking advantage of this program.

Continued cooperation between IBM and JDE is very important to the many customers that continue to run JDE applications using IBM hardware and middleware. Some still worry that the long period of détente will end but I see no signs of that happening. IBM continues to take overall market share from Oracle in the server space in spite of the tremendous success of Exadata and Exalogic at the top end of the market. If that trend continues, expect more barbs from Ellison again next October. Don’t, however, assume that it will derail the still strong IBM/Oracle relationship elsewhere.

The same line of thinking may not apply to the once rock solid relationship between Oracle and HP. Those close to the situation all seem to believe that Oracle’s decision to withdraw support the Intel Itanium family of processors is a direct attack on HP. Most HP servers use Itanium processors and a major portion of sales of them involve running applications over the Oracle database. Oracle’s move could thus badly hurt HP server sales and its HPUX operating system along with it. Oracle’s own servers could then take over some of the market share that HP loses.

Ironically, IBM will almost certainly gain part of whatever share HP loses. IBM servers run mostly on IBM Power processors and not Itanium. An intriguing question thus arises: if Oracle’s Intanium strategy succeeds in taking down HP, can it get away trying the same thing in the future by refusing to support IBM’s Power processor family? Doing so would end Oracle’s ability to claim leadership in openness so I don’t see it happening.

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