Now that the Jersey Shore is in its final season and we’ve become desensitized to the catfights on the Housewives of Wherever series, how about a reality show featuring the rivalries in Enterprise Computing?

This week’s edition could feature Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and the defenders of SAP’s in-memory database and analytics technology, SAP HANA.

It seems that the success of Big Data wrestler HANA (it is SAP’s best-selling product of all time) irritates Ellison just a bit and that he can’t stand before an audience without belittling its capabilities, especially when compared with Oracle’s Exadata Database Machine and Exalytics In-Memory Machine.

In the opening keynote at Oracle OpenWorld this week, Ellison did it again. While introducing Oracle’s Exadata X3 system that uses flash memory to make databases run a lot faster, the words “slipped” from his lips:

SAP has an in-memory machine, you know, that's a little bit smaller than what we offer. We have 26TB of memory; they (SAP) offer point-five (0.5TB) terabytes of memory. It's called HANA; her name is HANA. I promised Mark (Hurd) that when I did this presentation I was not going to mention them, I'm glad to keep the promise. The HANA in-memory machine is like really small."

This comment sent the execs at SAP into a tweeting, blog-posting, omnipresent media tirade.

Steve Lucas, SAP’s EVP of Database & Technology was everywhere reacting to the comment:
"Let's just say it's taken me 24 hours to get my eyebrows to lower to their normal position," Lucas told Business Insider.

"When I read what he (Ellison) said, and then watched it (the video) to get the context, it literally took me about a full day to get my jaw back into position. It was like, 'Are you for real?'" Lucas told eWEEK.

Ellison said several things that were not accurate. There's no basis in fact at all about the half-TB claim; it's so far from the truth, that I had to react. First of all, the whole comment about 'SAP is small, and we've got the big system,' is just foolishness. Here's the reality: IBM has already shipped the world's largest in-memory database for SAP HANA. We already have it: It is a 100TB in-memory system."

A Very Public Smack Down

SAP’s SVP of Digital, Social and Communities Mark Yolton headed up another channel; he acted as Tweeter-In-Chief:

Mark Yolton.jpegMark Yolton ‏@MarkYolton:
What #Oracle won't tell you about #SAP #HANA http://www.experiencesaphana.com/community/blogs/blog/2012/04/30/what-oracle-wont-tell-you-about-sap-hana

 

After Larry Ellison Keynote, I Can't Wait For #SAPTeched 2012 in Las Vegas http://wp.me/pKkXk-bH via @vijayasankarv re #SAP #HANA

 

Want actual facts and expertise on #SAP #HANA ? Listen to customers + partners in their own words http://scn.sap.com/community/hana-in-memory

Any Publicity is Good Publicity

And HANA creator Vishal Sikka tried to take the high road while trying to protect the honor and vigor of his “baby” in a blog post:

And yet Oracle made statements that are clear distortions and misrepresent HANA. It has become something of a recurring theme, to mis-state and distort things. As industry leaders, we must do better. It behooves us to tell the truth to our customers, our partners and our employees. We do not serve our stakeholders well by mis-statements and omissions of key things we know to be true. They deserve better. History deserves better."

In other comments Sikka made related to the HANA assault, he actually seemed personally hurt by Ellison’s words. It was as if HANA really was his daughter which makes Ellison seem like a bully. But, of course, it’s just business.

All of that being said, it’s questionable whether Ellison did himself (or Oracle) any favors by going after HANA in such a public manner; after all, SAP certainly won plenty of free airtime in which to strut HANA’s stuff.

The question is worth asking, does it make sense to bash your competitor in the age of social media when the offended party can respond so easily, so quickly and before a bigger audience than you could ever fit in the biggest of auditoriums?