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Ellison, HP keep lid on drama to open Oracle conference

Despite the tensions between the two companies over new Oracle Co-President Mark Hurd, HP and Oracle coexist peacefully at OpenWorld.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg
3 min read

SAN FRANCISCO--The drama was kept to a minimum tonight at the opening event of Oracle OpenWorld, which featured the two players starring in a still-developing Silicon Valley soap opera: Oracle and Hewlett-Packard.

Oracle image

HP typically sends its top executives to keynote the annual Oracle conference here, but there was potential for awkwardness after HP forced former CEO Mark Hurd to resign last month amid scandal and he fled into the arms of his good friend Larry Ellison's company, which happens to be a partner and competitor of HP. Before hiring him, Ellison publicly lashed out against HP's board of directors, calling the decision to get rid of Hurd "the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs."

HP sued Hurdimmediately when he signed on to Oracle to keep him from taking the job of co-president. But Hurd appeared on Oracle's earnings call Thursday, and will be a featured presenter at the conference tomorrow.

Neither side directly addressed the tensions. HP Executive Vice President of Enterprise Business Ann Livermore was the first keynote this evening, and before launching into her sales pitch to the thousands of IT professionals gathered in Moscone Center on what kinds of services HP offers, she tackled the issue without directly mentioning Hurd.

"First, I want to make some comments on the HP-Oracle partnership," she said, while ticking off some numbers like that the two share 140,000 customers, and that 40 percent of Oracle licenses run on HP equipment. Lest any customers be concerned that drama would disrupt the partnership, she noted, "HP has made a big investment" in supporting Oracle software and customers.

She, along with HP colleague Dave Donatelli, then launched into an hour-long sales pitch explaining how the recent acquisitions HP has made means that the company is more of a services company than most might know.

Behold the 'cloud in a box'
Ellison didn't make any mention of HP at all. Instead, once he took the stage, he got down to the business of picking on a different company: Salesforce.com and those who define "cloud computing" differently than Oracle.

He spent a lot of time on whether cloud computing is accurately defined by Salesforce's Web application, or by Amazon.com's EC2 cloud services, a platform for building other applications.

But he wasn't being picky about the definition for no reason. He was leading up to Oracle's main announcement of the evening: the new Exalogic Elastic Cloud, or "a cloud in a box," as he called it.

"This is the hardware and software engineered to develop and run your applications together," Ellison said while motioning toward a giant server box on stage that stood taller and wider than him.

Inside the silver cage were the ingredients of the cloud in a box: 30 servers with 360 cores, an Infiniband network, a storage device, an Oracle virtual machine and middleware.

Ellison claimed that the Exalogic product could handle up to 2 million HTTP requests per second. With that, he said, "We could host Facebook locally on two boxes."

Besides Salesforce, he also came out swinging against IBM's competing product, Power 795, saying it was more expensive and slower. The Exalogic sells $1.075 million vs. $4.4 million for IBM's, according to Ellison.

The cloud in a box is an example of where we'll see Oracle going in the future, according to Ellison. He said that the description he used when introducing the Exalogic Elastic Cloud is also the company's new tag line: "Hardware and software engineered to work together."