Tensions between HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) could heat up a little more if an analyst's report released yesterday turns out to be accurate.
Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research said HP could shut down its Oracle Siebel customer relationship management (CRM) system and sign a 35,000 to 40,000 seat deal with Oracle rival Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM).
The move could save HP 40 to 50 percent on the cost of its CRM system, according to Chowdhry. Oracle Siebel is generally considered the more sophisticated CRM system, while Salesforce's selling point has been ease of use (see CRM Buyer's Guide: Which Enterprise CRM Tool Is Right for You?).
The report comes at a time of growing tension between the two IT giants. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison hired former HP CEO Mark Hurd after his ouster from HP, and also criticized HP and Hurd's successor at the company, former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker. The conflict has continued in recent weeks, as Ellison tried unsuccessfully to get Apotheker to testify in the Oracle-SAP TomorrowNow copyright infringement trial.
Chowdhry said next month's Dreamforce conference could give clues about the state of Oracle's relationship with both HP and Salesforce.
"Contacts are almost 100% sure that if HPQ signs the mega deal of greater than 35,000 seats or so with Salesforce.com before the Dreamforce event, [Salesforce] will have someone from HPQ to be on stage during the keynote," Chowdhry wrote.
Apotheker himself may show up at the Salesforce.com Dreamforce event. "If that happens, this would represent [a] significant shift within the tech Industry, as that is going to make ORCL even more furious against both [Salesforce] and HPQ," wrote Chowdhry.
An appearance by Apotheker could also embolden Salesforce.com, Chowdhry wrote. Salesforce "may feel confident that now is the time to move away from being under the shadow of Oracle and claim to the enterprise world that Salesforce.com is the New Oracle."
If Apotheker doesn't show up, then the HP win "is just another of many wins [Salesforce] has had against Siebel, and [the Salesforce-Oracle] relationship continues to remain as it is right now, which is competitive but not acrimonious," Chowdhry wrote.