Oracle is The Wind in HP’s Sails

SAN FRANCISCO — Hewlett-Packard Thursday said it may be the largest hardware supplier for Oracle but what counts is the customer’s agenda.

“I think a lot of the commentary around this industry is centered on a cyclical economic environment,” said HP CEO Carly Fiorina. “What we’ve realized is that customer requirements are not about the fastest biggest box, killer apps or the next big thing. They are now focused on return on investment.”

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker said its strategy of lowering acquisition and operating costs was better than anything offered by IBM , Dell Computer or Sun Microsystems .

“This is not about a $10 billion advertising campaign,” Fiorina said, pointing to IBM’s recently announced computing on demand strategy. “The most important thing that has changed is that customers realize that it’s not the glitz of technology. We are not at a crossroads. We are on a path that we have been on for some time.

Oracle and HP have been very supportive of each other through product usage. Oracle, for example, uses HP-UX for its ERP and e-mail, while Oracle 9i is used pervasively throughout HP.

“If Larry Ellison doesn’t win the America’s Cup, it isn’t about the technology… it’s the captain,” quipped Fiorina, commenting on the fact that HP supplies Ellison’s Oracle sailing team with servers, PCs and PDAs to help aid give their ships a cutting edge. “It’s HP that puts the wind in Larry’s sails.”

In a way, HP needs the breath of life from Oracle now more ever considering HP has abandoned much of its middleware lineup. Fiorina said HP’s strategy is to support legacy equipment through UNIX, while looking at other OS platforms like Windows and Linux.

“You can’t make progress by throwing out everything you have. You can only make progress if you rationalize if you can evolve your IT,” said Fiorina.

Part of the development between the two companies centers on expanding HP and Oracle’s 80,000 joint customers. The company is expecting to announce several joint remote support initiatives in the next few months.

Fiorina explained Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s absence from the show, but made no reference to the departure of former Compaq CEO Michael Capellas, who is leaving the post-merger company.

HP also made several announcements this week to support its claims, including support for the revised Oracle 9i RAC, Oracle e-Business Suite, Oracle 9i Application Server, and a joint project with Intel to develop future Oracle technology on Itanium 2 processors.

As to its future with Oracle, HP said it will continue to develop the 9i platform as it plays into HP’s other developments in OpenView, partitioning, computing utility and grid technology, mobility, security and trusted systems, consumer connectivity fabrics, imaging technologies and partnerships.

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