Oracle and HP; things get nasty, SAP say ’sehr gut’

by Peter Smith on September 14, 2010

We featured (with some real sense of enjoyment, I’m slightly ashamed to say) the goings on with Mark Hurd, the didn’t-have-sex scandal, his departure from HP.  Now Larry Ellison of Oracle, who was outspoken in his criticism of HP at the time, has put his money where his mouth is and engaged Hurd.  As the press release announced;

“Oracle today announced that Mark V. Hurd has joined Oracle as President and has been named to Oracle’s Board of Directors.  Mr. Hurd will report to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison”.

HP has responded immediately with a civil complaint, filed in the California Superior Court. It claims Hurd will “inevitably” disclose trade secrets in his new role at Oracle, violating the non-disclosure agreement he signed with HP prior to resigning from the company in August. The suit seeks injunctive relief and damages, as well as an order that would prevent Hurd from accepting a position with a competitor

Ellison responded with this.

“Oracle has long viewed HP as an important partner,” said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. “By filing this vindictive lawsuit against Oracle and Mark Hurd, the HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees.  The HP Board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace.”

Boys! Play nicely!  That certainly doesn’t sound like the words of someone who sees HP as a ‘partner’; they appear more like the stance of an aggressive competitor. And perhaps that is where Ellison sees Oracle going.  Oracle signaled their intent to move into hardware with their acquisition last year of Sun Microsystems.  Now, by taking on Hurd (assuming that appointment holds), who is very much a hardware man, and picking a fight with HP, Ellison would seem to be taking them further in that direction.

I’m sure we’ll come back to what all this means for the supply chain and procurement technology world, but one immediate thought; SAP must be sitting in Walldorf, Germany, well away from this Californian madness, and chuckling to themselves at all this. As the NY Times reports, Bill McDermott, a top man at SAP,  says SAP is “staying true to its core” in software.

As Oracle’s biggest software rival, a major falling out between HP and Oracle is only likely to strengthen their position.  There may be other winners, including smaller more specialist solution providers who go up against Oracle in the procurement space, and of course large HP services competitors such as IBM and Accenture, but SAP may have most to gain.  And if Oracle get distracted by a noisy court battle that could go on for months or even years…. then even better.

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