Integration Issues?

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-03-24 Print this article Print


However, in an interview with eWEEK, Marc Fleury, former CEO of JBoss who made his fortunes in the enterprise Java space, said, "I think that narrowly from the Java, the Internet standard, point of view, this is a good thing. IBM still runs basic physics last I checked and has deep resources in research to throw at any problem it wants. I think this is simply about consolidation of the market and large players using their size to merge in these times, it is a good thing. As a competitor, I simply have no idea. Godspeed to them. Sun was a fun company to train at." Fleury worked for Sun in France before moving to the United States.

Meanwhile, Snyder, who also works full-time as an engineer at SpringSource, added, "With Sun's inability to ever truly capitalize on the technology it created in Java and its sinking revenues, a buyout or breakup of Sun seems almost inevitable. That is, unless Sun can truly remake itself and come out swinging. But every time we think that might happen, somehow Sun falters. If IBM does acquire Sun, then that leaves IBM and Oracle as the true heavyweights in the Java industry with more money and influence than nearly all of their competitors. True, there are many other players in the game, but none with the finances and might of these two giants. Make no mistake, both companies are highly invested in Java, which means it will continue, but in what form we have no idea."

In addition, Snyder said:

"I'd be willing to bet that IBM is not interested in Sun software but in the Sun hardware and storage; and I'm not talking about Sparc. IBM already has everything that is WebSphere and Sun really has little to contribute to that massive family of software. But consider Sun's recently beefed-up storage division. With the acquisition of StorageTek (which was rumored to have been started using technology from IBM just so that IBM would have a competitor), Sun's expanding storage strategy and Sun's shrinking market capitalization, that's where the discussion gets interesting."

James Staten, a Forrester Research analyst, wrote a report on the potential IBM-Sun merger, saying that "acquiring Sun would pose a number of integration issues for IBM Software Group. Firstly, IBM aims at executives while Sun aims at executives and beyond with a strong marketing investment towards developers. Secondly, both sides have fundamentally different business models. IBM SWG is not structurally set up to monetize support revenue stream model which they would acquire and very likely would have issues maintaining SLAs [Service Level Agreements] required to maintain it."

Moreover, of the possible fate of Sun's software should it be acquired by IBM or another suitor, Staten said:

"Regardless of the who, if Sun is acquired it should come as no surprise to see the winning bidder to shed a lot of the weaker products (and a significant number of redundant staff) in the process. From a software perspective we would expect Java, Solaris, MySQL and Indentity Management Suite to live on with the new company with the possibility of GlassFish, NetBeans, Open ESB and Java CAPS being spun off into open-source projects if they are to continue on."

Sun's NetBeans open-source Java development tools platform is a direct competitor to Eclipse, which IBM championed from its inception and still contributes heavily to. Although NetBeans has gained a great deal of new functionality recently and even exceeds Eclipse in some areas, some observers say IBM would do well to merge the best parts of both platforms into one.

Geir Magnusson, a director of the Apache Software Foundation who has been battling with Sun over access to a Java Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK), said: "While I have mixed feelings about IBM buying Sun, I think that if such a thing were to happen, it would probably be good for Java. IBM has been a proponent of open standards in the Java ecosystem, and I expect that will continue. With respect to the Apache-Sun dispute, I'd expect that the problem would simply go away -- IBM makes a lot of money from Java from a broad spectrum of products and services. Sun, on the other hand, seems to need to cling to any revenue it can realize around the Java runtime, and that's really the root cause of the Apache-Sun dispute -- Sun's fear that an independent implementation of Java under a permissive open-source license will harm its Java licensing revenue. Sun's recalcitrance on this issue is preventing progress and harming Java. I expect that IBM will take the long view, that an open, flourishing ecosystem around Java will be the tide that lifts all boats." 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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