The blogosphere as well as mainstream media has been abuzz with discussions about the IBM buyout of Sun. Enthusiastic TV anchors of not just business channels but even general news channels have been delivering extended theories on the matter. However one thing that is common across all discussions has been the fact that most people are looking at the buyout as a positive development.
The only real noises of dissent come from Java developers who think that IBM would kill Sun products and open source projects like NetBeans and Glassfish that they are fond of. NetBeans vs Eclipse in particular has been a long running debate and it would be interesting to see how this IDE battle shapes up if and when IBM buys Sun.
Below is a quick sampling of the news and views of various opinion makers –
- Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said that if IBM buys Sun, it will keep IBM mired in the deal for a long time. “You pick up a lot of stuff when you buy Sun,” Ballmer said at a conference in New York. “(A deal) gives (IBM) a year or two where all they’re doing is digesting it. I relish that year.”
- David M. Smith, an analyst at Gartner, told the Times that “The technologies of greatest interest to I.B.M. are Java and Solaris, and those are notably not hardware technologies.” As the newspaper notes, IBM uses Java in its software development, and promotes Eclipse, Java-based tools for developers. Sun, of course, invented Java. But IBM and Sun have been feuding, which makes life easier for Microsoft to promote its own development tools. Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, told the Times, an IBM purchase of Sun “would unify those warring groups and make for a stronger front against Microsoft.”
- The founder of the popular Spring Framework for Java, Rod Johnson, said Thursday he does not anticipate much impact if a possible acquisition of Java founder Sun by Java advocate IBM comes to fruition.
- Now, if IBM acquires Sun, one of the decisions it will have to make is whether to add Sun’s NetBeans tools to its product line. Chances are, it would leave it independent as an open source starter kit that would bring more developers to Java, and, eventually, to Rational.
- The stock market had been valuing Sun at a total capitalization roughly equal to the amount of cash and cash assets that it had on hand. That was the market’s vote of no confidence in Sun’s ability to make it through a harsh recession. IBM is nevertheless willing to pay more than what Sun is theoretically worth because without speculative support, Sun’s stock could sink even lower. What if it uses up its cash reserves and starts reporting a string of losing quarters again?
- It had better be done. Because if it’s not, then Sun’s looking at a pretty miserable time over the next 12 months. So where does this leave us? Deep industry sources contacted by eWEEK all indicate that this deal could be announced as soon as March 20, or by early the week of March 23 at the latest. All depends on how fast the lawyers get their work done.
- To be clear, IBM has plenty of good technology, too. But it is in marketing, sales and services that IBM holds the clear advantage—very important business ingredients that Sun has lacked for a long, long time. IBM Global Services’ well-oiled organization runs rings around Sun’s services group, as it does around just about every competitor’s, except perhaps Hewlett-Packard’s. Sheer size and reputation have always been the major factors here. There’s no question that a combined IBM-Sun entity would be an incredibly formidable competitor for all other systems companies.
- The point is that IBM and Sun have got a lot of duplicates in their product stacks and in these cases it’s likely that some could die in future (unless Sun is split before the buy). If you’re a fan of IBM products, you’re legitimately feeling optimistic. If you aren’t such an IBM fan (like me), you could have reasons to be worried.
- But Sun has had this amazing ability to thrash for a very long time on large and ultimately doomed projects (remember N1?), and they just haven’t been able to turn the corner and really reinvent themselves. I think many of us have been rooting for them for a long time. But I’m losing faith. No it’s not that I’m bitter. I just have been around the block a few too many times with new strategies and not seeing any of them really get any traction. The recession has not helped – but hey, IBM is doing just fine, thank you, so somebody out there knows how to run a business. Ah, IBM. When I heard that IBM may be buying Sun – now that was interesting. And it reminded me I had better start learning Eclipse…
- When I think about how this could impact Java, I can only see positives. A company such as IBM, could inject more money into Java development. When I think about the company who gave us Eclipse having more of an investment in Java, it’s difficult to see any negatives… It would mean the end of Netbeans. Everyone would be forced into the hit-and-miss plugin treasure hunt that is called Eclipse. *Sigh.*
- Will this be a good thing for Java? I think so. Open Source software may be free, but developing it sure isn’t, and having a financially sound landlord is a good thing. If this truly is the end for Sun, that’s a sad thing. But it’s not necessarily a sad thing for Java.
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