HP will bundle a basic edition of Oracle's application server software with systems running its HP-UX operating system, part of a joint marketing and development effort to be announced by the companies at the OracleWorld conference.
HP said the deal furthers its strategy of partnering with the biggest software vendors to make it easier for its customers to use the middleware products of their choice. Having scrapped the development of its own application server earlier this year, HP announced a similar bundling deal in September with BEA Systems.
"Customers increasingly are saying they want to buy solutions instead of individual products," said Don Jenkins, vice president of systems software at HP. The deal with Oracle, which involves jointly testing the products for compatibility, furthers the company's strategy to meet that need, he said.
Starting in December, customers who buy an HP-UX server based on HP's PA-RISC or Intel's Itanium processor will receive a CD with an entry-level edition of the Oracle9i Application server. Customers who buy HP ProLiant servers running Microsoft Windows and Linux also will be eligible for the free product through a download from the Web.
For Oracle's part, the company hopes the three-year deal will help it to boost its share of the application server market, in which it trails some distance behind market leaders BEA and IBM, according to most analysts.
Its strategy with the HP deal is to seed the market for its application server, hoping customers will pay to upgrade to a more advanced version and buy additional middleware and services from Oracle, such as its software for building portals, said Thomas Kurian, Oracle senior vice president for application server technology.
The bundled offering with HP includes a full-use licence for a "special" edition of Oracle9i Application Server, which will be sufficient for customers to deploy certain applications in a production environment, Kurian said. Among other components it includes the Oracle9i Application Server Containers for J2EE and a Web Server, he said.
The bundling deal announced last month between HP and BEA is similar in many respects. That offer includes a six-month trial version of BEA's software; customers can deploy the product in a production environment for up to 20 concurrent users, and after six months they must decide whether or not to purchase the product, BEA said at the time.
There is no time limit on the Oracle licence being offered, Kurian noted.
Customers will receive free support calls for up to five incidents from Oracle. The companies will also offer joint technical support for customers who buy support contracts, and they plan to train "hundreds" of HP sales staff and technical consultants on the Oracle product, according to a statement.
The deals with Oracle and BEA aren't exclusive, which means HP potentially could add IBM's WebSphere product to its list of application server partners.
Positioning itself as a "platform neutral" vendor, HP has said that it will also partner with Microsoft for customers who prefer to use that company's .Net software to run their applications. Oracle, BEA and IBM all make Java software, and a battle is under way between Java and .Net for the hearts and wallets of customers.
The moves are part of an ongoing trend towards bundling in the application server market. Sun Microsystems has started offering a free version of its Sun One application server with its Solaris 9 operating system.