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IBM in Talks to Buy Sun?

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According to the Wall Street Journal, IBM is in talks to buy out Sun. It could be a worthwhile move for IBM, giving them a more complete portfolio. But would it be the right thing for Sun to do? It certainly would have an impact on Sun's battered share price: 

It is unclear whether the negotiations will result in a transaction, but if the deal does go through, IBM is likely to pay at least $6.5 billion in cash to acquire Sun, the people said. That would translate into a premium of about 100% over Sun's closing price Tuesday of $4.97 a share on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Right now, this story probably means more for IBM's place in the server market, and how Sun could help that. 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.

What impact do you think IBM taking over Sun would have on Java?

Reference: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123735124997967063.html


Jeroen Wenting replied on Thu, 2009/03/19 - 9:21am

the only proper response to an 'online petition' is to ignore it.

Jaroslav Bachorik replied on Thu, 2009/03/19 - 10:00am in response to: Jacek Furmankiewicz

What kind of linux do you use? Are you still on JDK1.4?

I'm running NB on Ubuntu and JDK6 and the fonts are brilliant. So, don't generalize and spread FUD.

Fabrizio Giudici replied on Thu, 2009/03/19 - 10:31am

Yes, Jacek, I've the same setup as Jaroslav and fonts are pretty neat. I presume it depends largely on the distro / Java version / whatever combination.

In any case, as it has been said, NetBeans is not going to disappear. In the worst case IBM can drop funding, but can't make it vanish since is GPL. There are people willing to maintain it in case funding is dropped. I bet it's the same with GlassFish and other products.

Mina Shokry replied on Thu, 2009/03/19 - 10:32am in response to: Jaroslav Bachorik

I am running NB 6.5 on ubuntu 8.10 and JDK6 and fonts sucks in large files (I see ghosts).

but  this isn't topics of this discussion. Well, I think and hope this is April fool!

JeffS replied on Thu, 2009/03/19 - 12:22pm in response to: Jacek Furmankiewicz

"Maybe my point of view is clouded by the fact that NB still looks like crap on Linux...how many years is it gonna take for Sun to fix font rendering on Linux......"


It's all subjective, of course, but what are you smoking? 

For me, Netbeans looks gorgeous on Linux, whether I'm running Ubuntu, openSUSE, or PCLinuxOS (my fav), or whether I have Nebeans use native LAF (gtk), or Nimubs.

 I'm guessing that you might be seeing jagged fonts, even with using JDK6.  I do too, unless I go into (in the case of Ubuntu), "Prefereneces" -> "Appearence" -> "Fonts" tab, and click on the radio button next to "Use sub-pixel smoothing (or hinting - can't remember which, at the moment)".  That's for a Gnome evnironment.  If you are using KDE, go to the KDE control center, then select "Appearance & Themes", then "Fonts", then select "Enabled" for " "Use anti-aliasing:".

 You see, on Linux, Swing apps won't use anti-aliasing unless the native desktop environment is configured to use it.

Ben Kl replied on Thu, 2009/03/19 - 7:42pm

IBM wont kill Netbeans however they will cut (or eventually remove) funding and enhance Eclipse and sell the new Eclipse to your bosses . Netbeans will continue as Open source .

Karsten Silz replied on Thu, 2009/03/19 - 8:36pm

I think IBM buying Sun is the best thing that could happen to Java now.  Look at the financials, Sun is the Dead Man Walking of the IT industry:  On Oct 9, 2008, Sun supposedly had close to $3.5 billion in the bank (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/sun-microsystems-a-lesson-in-failed-cosmetic-surgery/), yesterday, there were  $1.6 billion left (http://techpulse360.com/2009/03/18/ibm-to-buy-sun-microsystems/).  So in five months, Sun burned through $1.9 billion in cash, meaning they could be completely out of cash in July, give or take a month or two (yes, this calculation may be oversimplified, but I stand by the trend).

So let's see, where does Sun revenue come from, looking at the last quarter?  60% come from server and storage hardware that go to financial institutions and telecoms, mostly in the U.S., and that was down 14% year-to-year (http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/investor/earnings_releases/Q209_SLD.pdf, slide 4).  In this recession with a lot of banks expected to go under soon, this is only going to get a lot worse.  Plus, starting today, the phones in all Sun accounts will ring off the hook because the Sun competitors will play the FUD card and try to get customers to switch away from Sun products.  Finally, a lot of resumes from Sun guys probably went out to Google today (or, dare I say: Microsoft?).  No matter whether this rumour is true or not, it just accelerated Sun's demise alot.

So don't you think that big, conservative customers feel safer when IBM backs Java, a company with deep pockets, not a company on life support like Sun?  And from all companies out there, IBM as the second-biggest software company in the world has the most to lose if Java goes under.  Look at their five software brands (http://www-01.ibm.com/software) - three of them run on Java: WebSphere is Java + Eclipse OSGI kernel, Lotus (on the client) is Java + Eclipse RCP + Open Office fork (and probably Java + Eclipse OSGI kernel on the server), Rational is Java + Eclipse.  Out of pure self interest, IBM will maintain Java, given that (like Linux) it's the one thing that runs across all their systems - mainframe, PowerPC, X86/64.

So given the choice between Sun just going bankrupt, being bought by IBM or being bought by somebody else, I gladly chose IBM.

Ben Kl replied on Thu, 2009/03/19 - 8:52pm in response to: Karsten Silz

IBM buying Java is GOOD for Java , its BAD for opensource.

Guido Amabili replied on Fri, 2009/03/20 - 4:34am


What will happen to  Harmony and SWT?

Java Module System versus OSGI ?




Serge Bureau replied on Fri, 2009/03/20 - 9:23am

Karsten and bklooste, what are you smoking ? You must be quite young and have no idea of IBM history. It is easily the worst news for Java, Netbeans, SWING, ... IBM has no visions, and we will never see an update again ? You gladly choose IBM ??? Get help !

Fabrizio Giudici replied on Fri, 2009/03/20 - 10:40am

Karsten, you're right about Sun's bad conditions and the need of a financial operation to save it. So, perhaps being bought by IBM is better than going bankrupt. I'm the first that was sure that Sun would have been bought very soon. Frankly, IBM is only the second worst buyer after Microsoft. Yes, big customers that are acquainted to elephantiac, locked-in products such as those in IBM portfolio might feel more comfortable, because they are used in wasting money in expensive consulting and integration. All the rest of the world probably doesn't feel better.

Karsten Silz replied on Fri, 2009/03/20 - 3:32pm in response to: Serge Bureau

If you don't think IBM should buy Sun, then what should they go bankrupt, or should they be bought by somebody else?  If so, who would that be?

Serge Bureau replied on Fri, 2009/03/20 - 10:53pm in response to: Karsten Silz

Bankrupt is a better option. In fact I do not see anybody with enough vision to buy them.

Karsten Silz replied on Sat, 2009/03/21 - 6:51am in response to: Serge Bureau

I disagree.  For all the important open source projects at Sun - Java, Solaris, Netbeans, Glassfish, MySQL - probably 95% or more of the contributions come from people Sun employees who get paid for that, so these contributions would stop pretty quickly.  Now even if some form Sun guys would still work on these projects in the spare time and the "community" woud picks up pieces, maybe you get 25% of the former contributions, but you still lose 75%, sentencing these projects to a slow death.

Serge Bureau replied on Sat, 2009/03/21 - 7:11am in response to: Karsten Silz

I am sorry but your own argument is in my favor, never IBM. You said "Java, Solaris, Netbeans, Glassfish, MySQL - probably 95% or more of the contributions come from people Sun employees who get paid for that, so these contributions would stop pretty quickly. " What makes you think with your opinion os IBM bying that any of those would survive ? All of these projects are in CONFLICT with IBM ! So they would die much more quickly with IBM. In fact JAVA and SWING and would be in great danger. So you propose fast death ?

Karsten Silz replied on Sat, 2009/03/21 - 1:56pm in response to: Serge Bureau

From my original post:

From all companies out there, IBM as the second-biggest software company in the world has the most to lose if Java goes under.  Look at their five software brands (http://www-01.ibm.com/software) - three of them run on Java: WebSphere is Java + Eclipse OSGI kernel, Lotus (on the client) is Java + Eclipse RCP + Open Office fork (and probably Java + Eclipse OSGI kernel on the server), Rational is Java + Eclipse.  Out of pure self interest, IBM will maintain Java, given that (like Linux) it's the one thing that runs across all their systems - mainframe, PowerPC, X86/64.

  • That's why I'm very certain that Java would be maintained by IBM because it's the core of their software business.  
  • OpeOffice is used as Lotus Symphony and in the Lotus client, so I'm certain that IBM would maintain it.
  • MySQL would be a nice low-end complement to DB2 (like Apache Geronimo to WebSphere) and get IBM a lot of web developers as users / customers they don't have otherwise.  Remember, DB2 runs mostly on mainframes and high-end Unix servers.
  • Glassfish may be merged with Geronimo, or certain pieces of it, or they would just assign the developers to Geronimo and don't support it at all.
  • I think Netbeans is most likely to be not actively supported by IBM.  I guess they would try to switch the developers over to Eclipse, but that would be a tough call.
  • I have no idea about Solaris.  Revenue from Solaris is miniscule to IBM and dropping (43 million, including virtualization and management software, -29% year-over-year in the last quarter).  Maybe they would pick pieces of it and put it into Linux (not directly, I believe the licenses are incompatible).

Max replied on Sat, 2009/03/21 - 9:07pm

Great news....Java has been stagnant for a while now. Hopefully they'll flush that waste of electrons NB down the khazi. Sorry to all those that swear by it, but it is a prize turkey, get over it. Every release was over hyped as "game over" and "this is it". Invariably it sucked. What a waste.

Jess Holle replied on Sun, 2009/03/22 - 8:49am in response to: Max

Have you used IBM's JVM?  If so, how did you miss all plethora of issues therein?  Have you noticed the enormous lag between a new Java version available from virtually everyone else and IBM JVM availability?

IBM won't speed up anything.  On their best day they move at a far slower pace than Sun on its worst.

Generally when IBM buys something they put it in unofficial maintenance mode and step up the marketing and consulting around it.  They actually do that pretty quickly...

mustafa Gamal replied on Sun, 2009/03/22 - 4:25pm

IBM wants to kill all open source communities by buying sun realy IBM close all gates but it self ,if this happend

it will be graet loss for all it communities

Serge Bureau replied on Sun, 2009/03/22 - 7:36pm in response to: Karsten Silz

You do not make any sense ? They can keep Java but not making it evolve and not even release it anymore, it is the hearth of their business not yours ! Or anybody else. MySQL is of no concern at all to them. And you accept glassfish being lost ? The crippled Eclipse instead of the advanced NetBeans, that is your wish ? When was Elipse last updated ? What did it brings the las 4 to 5 years ? A whole pile of nothing. And pathetic Linux for Solaris. I was wrong, you do not need help, but better understanding.

James Sugrue replied on Mon, 2009/03/23 - 7:00am in response to: Serge Bureau

I'm not sure about the "whole pile of nothing" comment on Eclipse! Every June there is an annual release with milestones along the way to those releases - so there are lots of updates. I think the choice between these two IDEs will continue in some form, no matter what happens.

Dominique De Vito replied on Mon, 2009/03/23 - 9:44am

What about wrong SUN management decisions ?

It's easy to say that now, but... buying MySQL 1$ billion was not that a good idea. Too much cash.

A strategic alliance would have done similar results for a lower price.

May be StorageTek price was a little high too for SUN's ROI...

Over the years, SUN has had often little success with bought companies. Just remember SUN's Linux solution, Cobalt ! I have just found a 2003 article saying "Sun Microsystems is phasing out Cobalt, the line of Linux-based hosting appliances it purchased for $2 billion at the height of the Internet boom"

A $2 billion purchase. What a lost !

Paying few millions for a startup is quite an easy risk, but 1$ billion, or even more, looks like not a solution for SUN due to integration history.

One question remains: is it possible to sell MySQL without selling SUN as a whole ?

Serge Bureau replied on Mon, 2009/03/23 - 6:37pm in response to: James Sugrue

I meant updates with some meat. If you want to get new API support years late, then be my guest. Eclipse to Netbeans is like GM to Toyota. Or IBM to Sun.

Rainer Eschen replied on Tue, 2009/03/24 - 5:56pm

Cobalt is a pretty good example for what is wrong with Sun. I was there when the Cobalt engineers tried to save their product before Sun sales ignored it completely (as a Toy). Shortly after this Dell made the big Linux deals, although Cobalt was a better product idea. I can't recognize what makes Sun interesting to IBM. Sure they are cheap now, but what is there what IBM doesn't have? Control over Java? For what? They already have the market share in Java solutions. If you are honest to yourself you should recognize that such a huge engagement in Open Source without gaining revenue is a dead end.

Bob Smith replied on Wed, 2009/03/25 - 9:28am

@Rainer Eschen

You're basing your opinion of Sun on decisions made by their former management team almost 10 years ago, and a misunderstanding of their open source strategy.

Go to Jonathan Schwartz's blog.   His last 4 entries explain the strategy clearly.    The strategy will generate tons of revenue.

Arash M. Dehghani replied on Wed, 2009/03/25 - 1:57pm

guys, why are you worrying about it? we know that Sun gonna get No.1 in the world it never happens, i promise

Chua Khoon Yong replied on Wed, 2009/03/25 - 9:07pm

oh boy, i am proposing to use JavaFX for my front end UI in my latest project.  Hope JavaFX survived.

Bob Smith replied on Thu, 2009/03/26 - 10:09am in response to: Chua Khoon Yong

I wonder if IBM wants to compete in the RIA space.   Seeing as their business is at the server end, I doubt it.

Miguel Munoz replied on Fri, 2009/03/27 - 8:50pm

I would feel much better about this if Eclipse wasn't such a piece of junk. And while I have problems with Swing, the SWT is far worse. At least Swing seperates the model from the view.

John Harby replied on Sat, 2009/03/28 - 1:43am

It seems the million dollar question is what can/will IBM do with the Java Platform. The JCP is in charge of Java specifications but all of the participation agreements are executed with Sun Microsystems. Can and will IBM manipulate the JCP and the platform to give itself a competitive advantage in middleware, mobile and other areas? Will Java end up just a big WebSphere world?

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