Back in March Oracle announced it was no longer supporting software development for Intel's Itanium line of RISC server processors. The reason it gave at the time was that Itanium was nearing the end of its life, despite the fact that Intel had launched a new range just one year previously. Intel begged to differ.
Many commentators suspected that an underlying motivation for this move by Oracle was the acquisition of Sun, and with it a server line that was in direct competition to equivalent systems from the likes of HP and IBM. Furthermore there was already a fair bit of aggro between Oracle and HP over the move of former HP CEP Mark Hurd to Oracle.
Oracle is the world's biggest enterprise software company, and as a result has a close relationship with companies, like HP, that sell servers which may run Oracle software. If Oracle stops supporting those servers they become a lot less useful, and that's a problem for those who sell them, and HP is by far the biggest Itanium server vendor.
HP recently sent a letter to Oracle demanding it resume support of Itanium systems, claiming to be enforcing Oracle's contractual obligations, and acting on behalf of Itanium customers. This letter hasn't been published, but HP shared details with a number of media, All Things D apparently being one of the first.
"It is our hope that Oracle will honour its commitments to HP and to our shared customers," said an HP statement. "However, if Oracle continues to disregard its commitments, and continues to engage in conduct designed to deny choice and harm competition, we will take whatever legal actions are available to us necessary to protect our customers and the significant investments they have made."
It's hard to tell who, if anyone, is in the right on this. If Oracle has legal commitments then so be it, but both Microsoft and Red Hat have also pulled back from Itanium. Trends in the server market have shown steady growth in x86 market share, and ultimately Oracle is surely at liberty to develop its software how it wants.