Hewlett-Packard and Oracle Corp. deepened their relationship yesterday with the announcement that HP Services Consulting & Integration will be incorporating the Oracle Fusion middleware into its SOA portfolio along with the HP OpenView management software suite. The agreement, which includes joint marketing and sales activities, builds on HP's existing ability to resell the Fusion software and represents another step in the two companies' Optimize for Agility initiative launched in 2005 around the Oracle grid-computing infrastructure.
The relationship between HP and Oracle is a long one and the two companies have more than 100,000 joint customers, according to Terri Schoenrock, program director for Enterprise Application Services at HP Services Consulting & Integration. HP Services' SOA offerings, launched in June 2005, include lifecycle methodology, risk-managed start-up, proof-of-concept and solution integration capabilities.
"This extends what we've already been doing with Oracle, from a database layer and from a hardware perspective with Oracle applications," said Tim Treat, manager of Worldwide Packaged Applications for Enterprise Applications Services at HP Services Consulting & Integration. "To match [Oracle Fusion] with our SOA offering has an excellent value proposition for our customers. HP will be providing the bulk of the delivery capability. HP is growing its capability in this space, training significant resources to deliver solutions. We will incorporate the Oracle application development framework with our HP global methodology."
HP also partners with Oracle competitors like BEA, JBoss, and SAP, and Treat said HP expects to continue working with its current partners. "Our goal with the Oracle relationship isn't to replace partners," Schoenrock said. "Our goal is to increase our capabilities and attractiveness to our customers."
Still, Marianne Hedin, a program manager for Worldwide Services and Services-Oriented Architecture at IDC, said she "can't help but think it will impact their relationships with SAP and BEA. The other thing that surprises me a little is that HP has always taken a lot of pride in being product agnostic. It's a major differentiator and when competing against IBM that is one feature they always push. With this announcement it seems HP is putting a stake in the ground, saying 'Oracle is an especially important partner for us.'"
HP's Treat said the Oracle partnership is a benefit for customers, not a mandate. "If a customer has an interest in working with products from a particular vendor, we will do that. If they come to us with an open slate, we'll put together the appropriate solution based on their requirements. We don't view reselling components as anything other than an additional benefit to customers."
Treat also acknowledged some overlap between OpenView and Oracle Fusion in the area of SOA and Web services management, but said the client's needs will determine product choice. "Clearly there are products that compete or overlap in that [SOA] space, but when we [HP and Oracle] get together on a particular pursuit of a client, we will look for the best solution," Treat said.
He also said both companies will continue their own product strategies in the SOA management area: "Each company is strategically investing, us in OpenView and Oracle in its application management suite. I don't expect to see a dramatic change in strategy."
In the world of SOA especially, partnerships are beneficial for both customers and vendors, Hedin said. "It becomes very evident when you look at the offerings of SOA that no company can provide the entire infrastructure for a client," she said. "They have to partner to fill the holes. I think this will benefit both companies to some extent. Oracle will benefit from the management of Web services perspective [with OpenView] and HP from having a strong middleware capability [with Oracle Fusion]."
Added Randy Heffner, vice president for Application Development and Infrastructure at Forrester Research Inc., "This being led from HP's side by HP's consulting group, it says much less about product strategy and much more about go-to-market solution delivery. It is good for Oracle's market presence to have this connection. Oracle's Fusion Middleware platform can always use major inroads into customer bases beyond Oracle's own."