Ellison confirms interest in HP’s middleware

Oracle Corp. is in talks to buy all or part of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s (HP) middleware product portfolio, Oracle Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison confirmed Wednesday.

“We talk to them about it,” said Ellison in a session with reporters after he delivered a keynote speech here at Oracle World. He would not say what stage the talks are at, but did say that buying HP’s middleware business would be a “tiny” acquisition, comparable to Oracle’s takeover of WebGain Inc.’s developer tools last week.

A small deal for specific technology is within Oracle’s strategy, which is to not do any large takeovers, but occasional “very small acquisitions in a technology niche,” Ellison said.

“You won’t see us buy large businesses,” Ellison said.

It is unclear which HP middleware products Oracle has an eye on. The HP portfolio includes a J2EE (Java 2, Enterprise Edition) application server, a transaction server, a messaging server, various XML (Extensible Markup Language) tools, its eSpeak software for building network-based services and its Process Manager business modelling tool.

Ellison said that Oracle’s own 9i Application Server “is pretty much fleshed out” and that Oracle does “not need to buy an application server.”

Sources told the IDG News Service earlier this month that Oracle could buy HP’s entire middleware product line.

An HP executive also at Oracle World on Tuesday hinted that HP would sell its middleware business soon. The company disclosed to financial analysts earlier this month that it would “retire” the money-losing middleware products, but had been mum on the topic since.

Ellison during his keynote presentation and further in the meeting with journalists promoted Oracle’s Real Application Clusters on Linux machines, gave his market view and, of course, bashed the competition. His main target was IBM Corp., which has a giant banner advertising its DB2 database on a building near the Oracle World venue as well as plenty of ads in the arrivals area of the Copenhagen airport.

Kari Kotom