One of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of litigation is because of something we call discovery. Both sides get the opportunity to drill into each other's private correspondence and look for things neither remembers writing. Given that in litigation reality tends to get blown away by motives and creativity, this can be pretty dangerous.
This was highlighted last week when HP released some of the things that were said inside of Oracle. Most damning is one series of text messages that indicate that Oracle executives who were pitching Sun products thought they were crap and didn't want to pitch them.
When someone says a product blows—wait, that isn't accurate, because they actually wrote "baaaallllloooooooows"—it isn't a compliment (but it will go down in history). They also said it was like putting lipstick on a pig and that it was clear that, in buying Sun, Oracle bought a dog. And they didn't mean a cute fluffy companion, they meant ugly mutt who peed on everything it touched.
You really need to see some of this stuff. It is clear that Oracle has made IT buyers the butt of a joke and I don't think any of us should be laughing. You can find the Oracle documents in order here and, if you are someone who fell for this scam, I'll bet it will make you a little mad because Oracle clearly appears to think we (and I do include myself) are idiots.
So what does this mean, other than your trust was misplaced I mean?
Oracle Knew Itanium Wasn't Dead
Whether you are talking Sparc, Power or Itanium, the reality is that each part is tied to the efforts of one vendor. The correspondence shows that HP, while Mark Hurd was still there, was not only fully behind Itanium it was actually surprised by how much Intel supported it. This is directly contrary to Oracle's allegations that Intel and HP were concealing a secret agenda to pull the plug. Not only weren't they pulling the plug, HP was still treating the technology as strategic and Intel apparently was as well.
Now I personally thought Intel had moved on from Itanium and was just continuing to support it because of the HP agreement, but the discovered documents clearly show that isn't the case.
I had also given Oracle the benefit of the doubt because it had sent me a Xeon roadmap and argued that since Itanium wasn't on it that it clearly showed Intel was pulling the plug.
I thought this was an honest mistake and that Oracle hadn't realized that the Xeon team wouldn't put Itanium on one of their charts any more than they would Core, Atom or Pentium because they don't own those lines either. However, the documents also showcase that they appeared to be moving against Itanium for competitive reasons and that chart doesn't seem to have any influence on that decision.
Sun Hardware Sucks, er, Baaaallllloooooooows
I guess it is the same thing but this reminds me of when Steve Jobs, who arguably was Larry Ellison's closest friend, came back to Apple. Larry was on Apple's board around this time and would have seen Steve painfully hype products he clearly thought were crap. We knew he thought they were crap because, prior to taking the job, he was outspoken on just how crappy they were. But he knew he had to convince people to buy them otherwise Apple would have failed so he pushed them until he could fix Apple and its product lines.
Ellison, apparently taking a page from Steve's book, is (based on this correspondence) doing pretty much the same thing and I don't think opening this particular curtain is going to make buyers feel all that warm and fuzzy about Oracle. I mean if it isn't honest about this what will it be honest about? Oracle employs some of the most highly compensated and skilled sales reps in the business, these folks likely could sell refrigerators to Eskimos.
In any case, listening to HP or IBM say Sun hardware sucks isn't nearly as powerful as hearing Oracle say it baaaallllloooooooows. And the joke really isn't as funny when it is on you.
I found this largely by accident, but it showcases that we all likely should be watching what is coming out of discovery because it is a rare look at the truth behind the related vendors. And it is also a reason to think twice about litigation because this same kind of thing could happen to you.
In any case, it is likely wise not to pick up any pigs wearing lipstick or Sun hardware in the near term future. For some unknown reason this reminded me of the rather famous spoof Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer did a decade ago.
Suddenly, that video makes more sense.
Rob is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. Previously, he was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group. Prior to that he worked for IBM and held positions in Internal Audit, Competitive Analysis, Marketing, Finance, and Security. Currently, Rob writes on emerging technology, security, and Linux for a wide variety of publications and appears on national news TV shows that include CNBC, FOX, Bloomberg and NPR.