That’s gotta hurt: HP to offer Xeon-based Superdome servers

Hewlett-Packard is bending on its pro-Itanium stance and will offer Intel Xeon-based versions of its high-end Superdome and NonStop servers, according to the Wall Street Journal and other reports.

These servers are used by banks and other financial institutions and until now ran on more specialized Itanium processors developed by [company]HP[/company] and [company]Intel[/company]. The Itanium chips are, purportedly, very powerful but saw limited traction in the market. Oracle cited the slow growth when, two years ago, it said it would stop supporting Itanium with its database and other software. That caused a major kerfuffle between HP and Oracle, one of its erstwhile allies.

In any case, HP positioned this as a move to retain key large customers as it breaks itself into two entities: HP Enterprise — for cloud, software, storage, etc. — and HP Inc., for printers and PCs.

Antonio Neri, SVP of HP’s enterprise group, told the WSJ that the company will continue to develop Itanium-based machines, but that Intel’s Xeon technology is more mainstream and thus appeals to many customers.

Reached for comment an HP spokeswoman reiterated that Itanium lives: She noted:

Itanium is still important – we have a roadmap that goes out to 2022 (which could possibly expand into 2025) and we will deliver what these customers need to achieve business results. The new servers announced today deliver on HP’s Project Odyssey (announced in 2011), which included bringing x86 into mission critical.

Still others say the writing is on the wall.

“This signifies the end of any big investments in Itanium,” Patrick Moorhead, founder of analyst firm Moor Insights & Strategy, told me. “The bigger question are how IBM and Oracle will look competitively a few years down the road. Developing your own platform with Power and Sparc are very large investments and getting bigger. Intel can literally leverage billions in R&D.”

Note: this story was updated at 9:47 a.m. PST with HP comment.