Oracle's abandonment of Itanium last month -- the database company said would stop all new software development for Intel's Itanium microprocessor -- prompted a range of reactions from a number of industry players.
In response to Oracle's claim that Intel was about to stop development of the CPUs, Chipzilla said that it was "still very much committed to Itanium and our recent Poulson processor investment is a good example of this." Co-progenitor HP also said that it was committed to the platform, pointing to a roadmap for HP-UX development on Itanium that extends 10 years into the future. Additionally, Huawei and Inspur said they planned to sell Itanium-based servers, taking the total number of vendors for the platform up to three.
So much for the vendors. But what about the customers -- the people who actually pay for and use the servers? According to Forrester analyst Rich Fichera, they're none too pleased -- in fact, "emotions are running high", and they feel as if they've been attacked by Oracle.
Essentially, they're in pickle. Some are still running older versions of the database -- the current and last Itanium-based version is 11.2 while many are still on version 9 -- but many are on the version prior to the final one which will, in Fichera's words, "cause a dislocation". Fichera also points out that users of other Oracle products could face difficulties as a result of the shift in hardware support -- which is of course in now way driven by its ownership of Sun's hardware portfolio....
These shifts are not like installing the next rev of Microsoft Office -- which can be painful enough, I understand (I use OpenOffice instead). These applications are running the business. They're complex and far-reaching, and you need massive testing before you think about swapping components. Options include moving to Linux, hanging on in there, or moving to a new Unix vendor. Whatever they do, it won't be easy.
One common thread, says Fichera, is that they all want to move forward in such a way that Oracle gains zero benefit from whichever platform they end up selecting -- a view that's entirely understandable.