Intel, HP, Oracle Love Fest?

A few days ahead of next week’s big Intel Developer’s Forum in San Francisco, the chip giant and its strongest (by far) Itanium partner HP are planning a heavily-promoted Webcast Thursday.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini and HP CEO Mark Hurd will discuss the two companies’ long partnership in the enterprise space in a Webcast at 8:30 a.m. PST, according to the ad (which has also been running on The Webcast is slated to be available at HP’s Web site.

The so-called “Montecito” dual-core version of Itanium, initially due in late 2005, has been delayed several months.

There may be an update on Montecito during the Webcast and almost certainly at IDF next week.

HP and Intel are expected to chart progress with the Itanium, which has been the target of criticism by competitors for its complexity, price and spotty upgrade delivery schedule.

Quick to play spoiler, Sun Microsystems sent out the following statement by Larry Singer, its senior vice president, strategic insights officer.

“HP’s Itanium event this week reminds me of the old line — ‘trying to put lipstick on a pig.’ This is a processor IDC predicted would represent $33 billion in server sales by 2002, and by 2004 had still only accounted for $1.4 billion.

“Both IBM and Dell ended support citing a lack of customer interest. And now HP and IDC are evangelizing its future? Let’s get real. HP is in a bind, committed to forcing its customers to move to an unpopular architecture, and no amount of theater can change its predicament.”

Ironically, on the heels of this criticism, Sun CEO Scott McNealy posted an open letter to HP’s Hurd today proposing a partnership between the two companies.

Specifically he urged HP to work with Sun and converge its HP-UX operating system to Sun’s own Unix OS, Solaris 10. An HP representative said the company had no comment on the letter.

HP has promoted Itanium-based systems as the best upgrade path to its HP-UX customers. But McNealy asserted HP would be able to provide a “richer roadmap” with Solaris that would include HP’s ProLiant servers, which don’t run HP-UX.

McNealy concluded by saying he’d welcome the opportunity to meet with Hurd and discuss a partnership further.

But HP remains bullish on Itanium, which it initially developed with Intel.

In late January, a consortium called the Itanium Solutions Alliance committed a staggering $10 billion to promote Itanium and developer support through 2010. HP said it has reaped more than $1.6 billion in sales of Itanium-based HP Integrity server solutions in fiscal year 2005.

According to a report by IDC last month, the market for Itanium-based servers will grow to approximately $6.6 billion by 2009.

Over the next five years, IDC expects the compound annual growth rate for Itanium-based servers to be 35 percent, compared to 3.4 percent for the overall server market.

In a survey of 501 members of its Enterprise Server Customer Panel, the IDC report said there was “high customer satisfaction and solid intent-to-purchase ratings for Itanium-based systems.”

Also, more than two-thirds of HP PA-RISC server customers interviewed say they plan to migrate to Itanium systems.

Also on the agenda for Thursday’s webcast, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison will appear in a pre-taped video.

At his company’s user conference in September Ellison said he was “a big Itanium fan,” and that Itanium is “important to HP and Intel, and in fact is a terrific chip.”

But in answer to a customer question following his keynote, Ellison also conceded updates and ports of Oracle’s software to Itanium generally become available a little later than for higher volume systems used by more customers, which are more of a priority.

In January Ellison participated in similar love fest, with Sun CEO Scott McNealy where the two companies announced a 10-year partnership agreement.

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