IBM Can Probably Sell Sun Better than Sun Can

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-03-18 Print this article Print

Insiders virtually all agree: An IBM-Sun Microsystems merger might be very good for both companies and their investors. One of the key elements to this possibility is that IBM will have to market and sell Sun's IT infrastructure wares better than Sun can, and most eWEEK sources believe IBM could actually do that.

An IBM-Sun Microsystems merger would certainly not be all about storage. Or servers. Or cloud computing. Or any other one particular area of IT.

These two Gigantors are far too broad-based for this potential unification to be pinned on any one technology. However, a merger would certainly be about sales and marketing of all of the above.

When it comes to technology, Sun has the goods: the MySQL database, a good hold on the open-source community, the ultrafast ZFS (Zettabyte File System) for storage, the huge Java franchise, StorageTek disk and tape storage, high-performance servers, some promising solid-state disk storage products, and all that groundbreaking cloud storage software. And that's just the top of it all.

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.

From a business perspective, such a deal looks promising at this early date. Investors at both companies should be excited. Sun's stock was up nearly 80 percent to $9 on March 18, and you can bet it will continue to gain value as these talks intensify. IBM's stock was down a tad, but so what? It's sitting pretty at $91.

In terms of products, there are good fits and big overlaps. Our esteemed eWEEK Labs and some of my other colleagues, including Jeff Burt and Jeff Cogswell, have examined all the pieces closely. There's no question that a combined IBM-Sun entity would be an incredibly formidable competitor for all other systems companies.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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