A California court has ruled that Oracle is contractually obligated to produce software for Hewlett-Packard's Itanium-based servers and must continue to do so for as long as HP sells them. The ruling issued on Wednesday by Judge James Kleinberg in San Jose is the latest chapter in a bitter, ongoing struggle between the two …
And can the judge order them to ship the same version of code that everyone else gets? with all the latest whizzbangs?
Or ae we going to see a grandfather version that never advances, kept purposely behind to force customers to change hardware?
True, there is no practical way of enforcing this judgement, if it sticks, with any meaning. There is a big difference between creating a court ordered port and providing excellent support and integration work. Does anyone think Oracle is going to put their all stars on the Itanium support team (or the interns)? The court might be able to force Oracle to support Itanium, but they can't make them do it well.
Not that Oracle doesn't deserve their comeuppance for a variety of other reasons, but this sets a bad precedent (if it is not overruled) for the IT industry. Now anytime any vendor issues any statement of support for a company or their products they have to assume that they will be committing themselves to supporting that product forever under any circumstances. Therefore, companies will be much more reluctant to agree to any press releases, integration work, or anything else which might be construed as a "contract." Interoperability and collaboration will suffer as no one will want to do anything which might be later brought back in a lawsuit as an informal contract. Why doesn't HP sue Microsoft while they are at it? Surely they can find some press release in which Microsoft wrote that they were committed to Microsoft on Itanium or HP in general, which is apparently now a contract for support until HP tells them they can stop.
"Now anytime any vendor issues any statement of support for a company or their products they have to assume that they will be committing themselves to supporting that product forever under any circumstances."
Yes indeed, and especially where HP is concerned. If they make this stick then no-one will ever want to support anything on HP kit ever again. The rest of the Itanic software community (who are they?) must be shitting bricks right now. This ultimately would be very damaging for HP.
It's not even as if Itanium is any good anymore anyway. It wasn't that good when it was brand new. It's almost as if HP are kidding themselves that this dying platform has a future; it hasn't.
"The court might be able to force Oracle to support Itanium, but they can't make them do it well."
Quite right. Or at least I desperately hope you're right; the alternative is too mad to contemplate. If Oracle ultimately lose they are surely going to put as little effort into Itanic as possible. All HP have achieved in doing is sending their customers a message that Oracle on other platforms is going to be significantly better than it will be on Itanic. It's almost free advertising for HP's rivals.
The contractual side of this is only one part - if you have read all the pleadings as you claim, you will have noted that the other side of this is "promisory estoppel" - that is, Oracle executives repeatedly made commitments (in private, not in public) to HP about supporting the Itanium platform - now these weren't contractual agreements, but they were commitments upon which HP based significant investments... this is as much part of US (or californian) law as the contract breach argument.
And far from causing vendors to worry about making commitments to platforms and products etc, I think this could bring some much needed clarity to the whole area of heterogeneous support - i.e. instead of vendors saying "we support X with Y", they are now much more likely to say "we support X with Y for a minimum of Z years, and will extend that support if we think appropriate at some point". As a customer planning my investements in technology, I'd be much happier with that.
"I think you misunderstand a core part of this case: Oracle and HP had a contract. This case wasn't based on press releases, but cold, hard, legal contracts the two companies had signed."
You hear this a lot, even though it is manifestly untrue even from HP's lawyers point of view. Is this something that HP reps have been telling people?
This is HP's complaint. Read for yourselves. The implied "contract" was made, according to HP, based upon Oracle's longstanding support for Itanium and the Hurd press release. If you read the trial documents, everything centers around the Hurd press release and what it meant. If they had a formal contract with Oracle, this would have never even gone to trial.
"And far from causing vendors to worry about making commitments to platforms and products etc, I think this could bring some much needed clarity to the whole area of heterogeneous support - i.e. instead of vendors saying "we support X with Y", they are now much more likely to say "we support X with Y for a minimum of Z years, and will extend that support if we think appropriate at some point". As a customer planning my investements in technology, I'd be much happier with that."
I agree that promissory estoppel and implied contracts can be enforced if damage has been caused based upon reasonable reliance, but people seem to have this impression that there was a "cold, hard" contract signed with "Multi-Year Oracle-HP Itanium Support" at the top, which is not the case.
I also agree that theoretically this could bring clarity to the support process as companies will be forced to spell out in the future, in cold, hard contracts, exactly what the relationship is, what the obligations are, and for how long. The danger, IMO, is that the whole IT industry works on informal collaboration, partnership and integration. If there needs to be a six month legal review prior to any joint testing or integration planning, everything is going to slow way down. The lawyers will take over everything, the cost of collaboration/integration will be much greater, and it will be more likely that companies will stop working together as often. It could result in people either being IBM shops, Microsoft shops or Oracle shops and no combination thereof in the same stack because the costs of creating the constantly changing integration agreements is just too high to justify.
Re: Re: Oh?
"....Now anytime any vendor issues any statement of support for a company or their products...." Oh come on, Wunderburp, just man up and admit you were wrong. You said hp had no contract, the courtcase proved otherwise, and that it is much more than just a statement of support.
"There is a big difference between creating a court ordered port and providing excellent support and integration work. "
Have you ever actually had to work with Oracles support or integration services? I suspect you haven't, or you'd understand how that statement can NEVER apply to Oracle. The support is a lot of things, but excellent is certainly not one of them.
"All HP have achieved in doing is sending their customers a message that Oracle on other platforms is going to be significantly better than it will be on Itanic. It's almost free advertising for HP's rivals."
If Oracle had won this round, they would be flogging the court result to HP's customers. Same difference.
Except that Oracle at least has to offer some sort of product updates for Itanium which they previously declined to do at all. They could theoretically assign less professional people to give crappy support and updates but the court could find Oracle to be in contempt of the court order and/or Oracle would dilute the perception of their product/support quality. I'm sure that Oracle is still raking money on the Itanium platform even if they continued software development.
The next logical step for Oracle is to drop support for RH, SLES and other distributions and to offer support only for Oracle Linux users. Just you wait...
I admit that I was wrong in thinking that this lawsuit would be shot down out of the gate, but this is by no means a final judgement. Oracle will appeal this ruling to the judge. If that fails, they go to appeals court. If that fails, they go to the CA supreme court. This isn't a done deal.
I have no great admiration for Oracle and wouldn't care if they were hammered, but getting slammed for stating the obvious about Itanium and following the same course as MS, RH, and many other ISVs is ridiculous.
"Have you ever actually had to work with Oracles support or integration services? I suspect you haven't, or you'd understand how that statement can NEVER apply to Oracle. The support is a lot of things, but excellent is certainly not one of them"
Yes, I agree, Oracle support is not great. I have worked on several very large Oracle implementations, so I am familiar with Oracle support.... There is a difference, though, between Oracle actually trying and being incompetent vs. Oracle trying to be incompetent.
"The next logical step for Oracle is to drop support for RH, SLES and other distributions and to offer support only for Oracle Linux users. Just you wait..."
I agree, Oracle has Linux in their sights. They have been playing this cat and mouse game with RHEL (Oracle takes their maintenance, RHEL responds by baking patches into major upgrades so it is more difficult for Oracle to find and duplicate them). If RHEL is no longer binary compatible with OEL as a result of this, Oracle could decide to just drop RHEL instead of support two Linux forks. Not many people care about SLES, but RHEL would be a problem. VMware is also on their list of things to do.
> where HP is concerned. If they make this stick then no-one will ever want to support anything on HP kit ever again.
And you'd want to have Oracle supporting your servers?
Let's be clear: they are completely useless in 99% of cases. If you have oracle based mission critical enterprise app (and we're talking only about such ones with Itanium and HPUX), you have to have your own (or outsourced), competent database support people and you support yourself avoiding contacts with oracle support as long as it's possible, as usually this is just wasting your time. Oracle is needed only to provide patches - regular ones each 3 months plus the ones you request when you will proove them there's a new bug. I hope that this sentence will force them to do so, finally compiling quarterly patches against one more platform is not a big deal to do. With one-off patches they were always very uneager to provide them so it cannot be any worse. Anyway, if they won't do that, I guess HP will sue them again
"I admit that I was wrong, but, but, but...." No, we just want you to admit you were wrong.
".... following the same course as MS, RH, and many other ISVs...." OK, since you bring it up, now you can also admit that you were also wrong in that Oracle very obviously has a contract with hp that is different to the relationship between hp and M$, RH, etc, etc. Hey, I don't care how many times you want to admit you're wrong, but every time you post some more bumph you'd best check it first, otherwise I'll have to point out your incorrectness again, and again, and again.
"OK, since you bring it up, now you can also admit that you were also wrong in that Oracle very obviously has a contract with hp that is different to the relationship between hp and M$, RH, etc, etc. Hey, I don't care how many times you want to admit you're wrong, but every time you post some more bumph you'd best check it first, otherwise I'll have to point out your incorrectness again, and again, and again"
Very gracious as usual. Oracle and HP did not have a formal contract. This judge has ruled that they did have a contract through promissory estoppel. Courtesy of Wikipedia, "The doctrine of promissory estoppel prevents one party from withdrawing a promise made to a second party if the latter has reasonably relied on that promise." MS and RH also did not have formal contracts with HP, but, if it was the case for Oracle, HP could make the argument that they reasonably relied on Microsoft and RH's statements regarding Itanium support and when they withdrew support HP was harmed.
Re: Re: Matt
".....Oracle and HP did not have a formal contract. This judge has ruled that they did have a contract through promissory estoppel...." Oh, so they did have a contract. Which you said they didn't. In fact, I'm pretty sure you said something along the lines of how hp could never win the case, there was no contract, right here: http://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/1420380. Oops, did you just get proven wrong AGAIN?!?!
OK, let's do a refresh, just to make sure you've finally got it:
ORACLE: "hp said Itanium is dead, we're not going to write any new software for it."
HP: "We didn't say that, and you have a contractual obligation to continue."
ORACLE: "See you in court!"
WUNDERBURP: "HAHA, hp-ux is dead, Itanium is dead, there is no contract!"
JUDGE: "There is a contract, Oracle will have to keep making Oracle software for Itanium."
WUNDERBURP: "Waaaaah! Waaaaaaah! Waaaaah!"
First, Oracle did not say that HP said Itanium was dead. They said that Intel executives told them that Itanic was nearing end of life, to no one's surprise.
Second, there is not a "contract" so much as an enforceable promise, which is what promissory estoppel means. Even though there was no contract, because HP had foolish relied on Oracle for so many years and Oracle had foolishly written in the Hurd PR and other statements that they would support HP. The judge decided that Oracle needed to support Itanic. In other words, if you told someone you would sell them your house and that person went out and sold their house, but then you decided that you did not want to sell your house, after that person had relied on your promise to their detriment, a court might enforce the promise to sell. That is promissory estoppel. It doesn't mean you signed the contract.... As I mentioned, we are in round one of at least three rounds, so this single judge's ruling will not be the end of the story.
Re: Re: Matt
Don't worry, Wunderburp, there's no need for you to carry on ranting. The judge has said Oracle have to keep on supporting Oracle products on Itanium, something you said would not happen. In the long run, it will not stop the gradual decline of the UNIX market, including AIX on Power. It may keep a few customers on hp-ux for a few years longer to have Oracle support but that's about it. IBM will have to shrug, say thanks to Larry for the temporary sales boost, and then go work out what they will do when no-one is bothering with AIX anymore (which, going by the lack of depth in the Power roadmap, IBM think will happen pretty soon). Of course, should Larry turn round and try the same trick with Oracle support on Power, IBM won't have any agreement/contract/promise to fall back on....
How strange is that?
This is a strange decision by the court. How can one company be obliged to produce a product to work with another company's product for no payment? HP aren't exactly paying Oracle to do, so where's the contract?
So far as I can tell the 'contract' between HP and Oracle is "You can have Mark Hurd, but you must give us Oracle on Itanic forever". Is there no concept in the US of unreasonable contractual terms and how they're normally unenforcable? I can't imagine a court in, for example, the UK handing down such a result.
There's something seriously broken in the US business arena. The patent system is completely useless, and is too feeble to do anything about it. The courts aren't much better either. I can't believe that a judge is willing to hear a case concerning whether making something rectangular breaches someone else's design rights or patents. The US court system and its judges are being made to look foolish and ridiculous. It's high time they realised that and started demanding that lawyers present them with real cases, not the phony ones that seem to dominate the court schedules these days.
It should be of government concern too. Business will surely stagnate in this environment, and that's not good for the country as a whole. The US is rapidly becoming a terrible place to do business.
I'd like to say that things are better elsewhere, but there's a growing level of craziness going on in Europe too (e.g. Apple vs Everyone else). By hearing the cases the courts in Europe are making it impossible for European companies to think about competing. We don't want a court enforced monopoly for Apple just because judges don't see that there's nothing special about a rectangle with buttons on it.
The natural conclusion to all this is that Asia/China's rise to total economic dominance will proceed forthwith. It's easy to re-balance the situation - ban political lobbying, lock up most of the lawyers and let companies get on with it.
Doesn't change the fact
that I am a HP-UX specialist and now am f*cked for future roles. Off to the redhat academy for me.
Re: Doesn't change the fact
"....Off to the redhat academy for me." In the longterm, any and ALL proprietary and commercial variants of UNIX are doomed, it's just a matter of how long they have left. It doesn't matter if it's hp-ux, Solaris or AIX, they will eventually be squeezed out unless they can be ported to x86 and/or maybe ARM and compete with Linux and M$ Windows Server. Indeed, just porting to x86 doesn't guarantee survival, as shown by Solaris x86. The traditional UNIX market has been in decline for over a decade, being eaten from below by cheaper x86/64 kit. That's the bad news.
The good news is it hasn't happened yet and may not happen for another ten years at least. Twenty years ago, when Torvalds released the Linux kernel, I thought UNIX had another ten years and M$ Windows was just as likely to be eaten, so I started learning Linux and FreeBSD. Along the way I became a strong proponent of RHEL, but today I'm still doing more hp-ux work and still seeing more Windows than Linux projects. Whilst I would recommend learning any OS you get the chance to, especially RHEL, I wouldn't say it's time to man the lifeboats just yet.
Re: Doesn't change the fact
Linux will definitely continue to cut into Unix, but x86 stack still needs to fix the vendor integration problem. Anyone who has worked on or talked to someone who has worked on a Linux on VMware (or other hypervisor, but generally VMware) environment will tell you that they just tend to inexplicably go down from time to time. It isn't a problem with any hardware, firmware, OS, hypervisor, management utility, application component in particular but just some strange one-off incompatibility issue (e.g. someone upgraded the firmware on the fiber switch, now VMware can't see the disk... all of the vendors say their component is working fine, should be working, isn't working). Maybe the x86 server vendors will get around this by pre-integrating "cloud" appliances, but it is going to be difficult for anyone to get VMware, Red Hat, Microsoft, Oracle, various hardware manufacturers, etc who all hate each other passionately to agree to Unix-like pre-integration.
Re: Re: Doesn't change the fact
Geez, Wunderburp, are you smoking rolled up IBM press releases!?!??!
".....Anyone who has worked on or talked to someone who has worked on a Linux on VMware (or other hypervisor, but generally VMware) environment will tell you that they just tend to inexplicably go down from time to time....." Erm, no! VMware does not tend to fall over for no reason. Neither does RHEL.
"....e.g. someone upgraded the firmware on the fiber switch...." Well that would affect anything attached to the switch then, including AIX. D'uh!
"....Maybe the x86 server vendors will get around this by pre-integrating "cloud" appliances, but it is going to be difficult for anyone to get VMware, Red Hat, Microsoft, Oracle, various hardware manufacturers, etc who all hate each other passionately to agree to Unix-like pre-integration." Just shut up and go read here: http://www8.hp.com/us/en/business-solutions/solution.html?compURI=1246501#.UBrIPaNgr5M
Just because IBM can't do it doesn't mean others haven't already.
Quite impressive really that a seemingly only verbal contract can be worth so much, I guess HP's next battle will be INtel and forcing them to keep developing the processors!
"Quite impressive really that a seemingly only verbal contract can be worth so much, I guess HP's next battle will be INtel and forcing them to keep developing the processors!"
HP will be able to force Intel to push out half-baked new chips for some time. They already have been. What about their key Itanium reference and development input customers? They issued press releases stating how committed they are to Itanium, probably took free gear as betas, presumably wrote in PRs how they plan to use it in the future, HP took their suggestions and made changes to the OS to HP's detriment now that they are moving away from Itanium. Taken to its illogical extreme, HP may have some verbal implied contracts with those former customers too. Itanium is great. If you don't agree, speak with our attorneys.
Remember that HP and Oracle had official alliance for many years and they were close together as much as 2 such big corporations can be without merging. This was really close cooperation for creating and promoting Oracle SW on HPUX. I guess it was said hundreds of times informally during those years that Oracle is committed to this alliance until Itanium's very end. Larry thought that when he's not having it stated in formal document, then it doesn't count, but it doesn't work that way, spoken agreement is the same valid as written one, not only in US, in every civil law around the world as well.
I find it ironic that Oracle of all organizations should criticise another vendor over 'partnerships' given that Oracle's track record in that space is particularly inglorious.
Partnership with Compaq to use Tru64 clustering as the basis for Oracle 9iRAC cache fusion, then partner with Dell to promote on Linux.
Buy Sun and dump the Dell relationship
Partner with Red Hat and then release Oracle Enterprise Linux
Partner with Peoplesoft and then release Oracle HR
I'm not sure Oracle understand the meaning of partnership unless they believe it to be a stop gap until they have a product offering of their own to compete with, and when that fails, buy the competitor (Siebel, Peoplesoft, BEA ...)
"'m not sure Oracle understand the meaning of partnership unless they believe it to be a stop gap until they have a product offering of their own to compete with, and when that fails, buy the competitor "
Just like every other multinational company in other words. Frankly why anyone would voluntarily choose an Oracle database when in Sybase (for example) is a damn site better at the high end and plenty of free stuff at the bottom end serves just as well is a mystery to me, but you can't accuse them of not looking after their shareholders interests. Which essentially is the main task of a public listed company like it or not.
Which does beg the question, were the hp board being obtuse when they passed up the chance to lock Oracle to them when Oracle bought Sun? Originally, Larry wanted hp to take the Sun hardware bizz whilst he took the software bits he wanted (MySQL and Java), and he wanted hp to support SPARC-Slowaris for him. Instead of locking Oracle to them, ramping down SPARC and CMT and gradually porting the installed Slowaris base to Itanium and x64, hp said "no thanks". Looking back, that seems like a poor decision.
"Sybase a damn (sic) site (sic) better"??
Funniest thing I have read today. I conclude you understanding of databases is on par with your command of the English language.
"Funniest thing I have read today. I conclude you understanding of databases is on par with your command of the English language."
Really? Oh. Do tell us how then "damn" should be spelt there Dictionary Doctor.
And if the only thing you can come up with is a standard issue lets-make-fun-of-the-typo response instead of posting a valid counter argument then that tells us all we need to know about YOUR understanding of the subject.
FWIW I've administered both Oracle and Sybase databases and I'll take Sybase for its ease of use anytime thanks pal. And another fact for your tiny brain - in 2008 Sybase powered largest data warehousing database in the world. I have no idea if that record still stands but if you think Sybase is only for noddy SMB systems then I've got news for you pal.
I had a typo, it should have read "...conclude your understanding of databases is ..."
You, on the other hand warranted 2 sics, making your post funny, as in "ha ha" funny.
1: The correct grammatical form is "damned". That is not a typo, as you repeated it in this post. Fail 1 on grammar.
2: The correct word to use is "sight". Site and sight are homonyms (along with cite). You clearly do not know which one to use. Fail 2 on vocabulary.
I am no Oracle booster to be sure, as any one who knows me will attest. However Sybase is IMHO a particularly nasty DBMS, and since I also work with mega databases and have been doing so for decades on a number of different DBMSs, I allow myself to have this well qualified personal opinion. YMMV.
"as in "ha ha" funny."
Is there a doctor in the house, my sides have split.
"The correct grammatical form is "damned"."
Actually it can be either.
"Site and sight are homonyms (along with cite)"
Oh look, arn't you clever. I bet mummy was so proud of you when you won the school spelling competition.
Probably with half your class asking "How do you spell fsckwit?"
Do typo trolls like you honestly think anyone cares? Or is your insecurity so bad that any chance at having a go at someone else is grabbed at like a liferaft even if it makes you look a complete tool.
"I allow myself to have this well qualified personal opinion"
And it remains an opinion, not fact. But then an arrogant ass like you wouldn't realise that. Anyone who's had the "pleasure" of attempting to program and debug Oracles PL/SQL especially triggers and then switched to Transact SQL knows Sybase is a much more pleasent enviroment to work in. And more powerful. Each to their own however.
(PS. If there are any spelling mistakes in the above I really don't give a toss)
"I find it ironic that Oracle of all organizations should criticise another vendor over 'partnerships' given that Oracle's track record in that space is particularly inglorious."
True, Oracle is a miserable partner, but that is all the more reason why HP should not have been inclined to believe, and why it would have been unreasonable to think, that they had any sort of long term, any circumstance partnership with Oracle. No one has a iron clad partnership with Oracle and they eventually get around to hosing everyone.
"Anyone who's had the "pleasure" of attempting to program and debug ..."
...anything at all ought to have slightly more respect for proper syntax and spelling. English is a tolerant language, but it isn't completely devoid of internal logic.
I expect your "is there a doctor in the house" remark ought to have a question mark somewhere. You miss-spelled "arn't" and if you are using "mummy" as a proper noun then it ought to take a capital letter. Thanks for not giving a ...
Yes and no. Larry wanted them to join Sun purchase, share the cost I guess half by half, and then Larry would take all valuable bits leaving useless hardware part to HP. No board would accept such deal. Even Mark Hurd wasn't able to force such a thing and we all know that previous HP board were all his buddies and they would do what he would say. So they didn't agree. They couldn't know that then Larry will start his vendetta. I guess no one expected Larry to be such madman and do such moves against shared customers and contracts between companies.
So, can we use this to make Microsoft keep supporting Windows XP?
HP are having to pay Intel to keep the chips coming in the short term, they've had to sue Oracle to keep the database engine coming - what does Oracle need to do that? Will their C compilers, test/dev hardware etc still be available? Will they get operating system source access, to ensure parity with their Linux/Solaris/Windows offerings?
A quick search on hp.com for Itanium products suggests perhaps I wanted 'titanium' instead - whoops! If I wanted to develop Itanium software, in the past I could have used Dell or HP workstations - oops, those have been discontinued already. Virtual machine? I can fire up Linux, *BSD, Windows, Solaris, even OS/2 (eComStation) virtual machines for development purposes - anything on Itanium? Never mind that Windows and the Linux distros have both dropped it already (does Oracle have to keep supporting the database on those?)...
It's an alarming demand: support a dying fringe platform in perpetuity?! Oracle don't have to keep supporting Windows, or z/OS, or Solaris if there's no market for it - but suddenly, supporting HP-UX (or NonStop? OpenVMS?) is mandatory whatever happens - until HP finally drops the whole architecture completely.
If I were Oracle, I might be tempted to reply to the judge "OK, but HP will have to provide X Itanium workstations running each version of the OS they want supported, with supported standard-compliant C compilers and libraries to match", where X is at least the number of people needed to maintain and support the products. How can HP drop half the product range itself, then demand other people keep supporting it regardless?!
Re: Supporting infrastructure?
FYI: HP gives Oracle a shit load of hardware for this purpose, and I mean a big shitload, and have always done so.
Re: Supporting infrastructure?
According to the court documents $5 million in infrastructure between the Hurd agreement and the Oracle announcement
Re: Supporting infrastructure?
"FYI: HP gives Oracle a shit load of hardware for this purpose, and I mean a big shitload, and have always done so."
Oracle would be pleased to send it back and put a return to sender on future Itanic gear.
Re: Supporting infrastructure?
"According to the court documents $5 million in infrastructure between the Hurd agreement and the Oracle announcement"
Do you know how small $5 million is to these companies? That is like getting a free coffee mug from someone for the average person.
Re: Supporting infrastructure?
HP still produce Itanium based servers but of course no one expects there'll be many new customers for them. Everybody knows that Unix is in final decline and majority of new customers are choosing proliant servers and linux. The whole case is about existing customers who spent usually many millions of dolars on HP highend servers used to run oracle software, having in mind that those 2 companies have strict partnership and they will be able to receive upgrades, both HW and SW, for many years to come. Oracle kicked all those people in the butt, HP sue them for that and just won. It doesn't make any difference that platform is in decline, it's about existing customers.
Re: Re: Supporting infrastructure?
".....Do you know how small $5 million is to these companies?...." Really? Please do try and ask IBM, Oracle or EMC for $5m of kit just becasue they won't miss it. Massive fail.