Sun to Expand Java Enterprise System with SeeBeyond Buy

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2005-06-28

Sun to Expand Java Enterprise System with SeeBeyond Buy

SAN FRANCISCO—Sun Microsystems bolstered its position in the business integration market Tuesday with its agreement to acquire SeeBeyond Technology in a cash deal worth $387 million.

The deal will bring the SeeBeyond ICAN (Integrated Composite Application Network) Suite into the Sun Java Enterprise System suite as the sixth primary piece of the JES solution, which also features the Sun Java Application Platform Suite, the Sun Java Communication Suite, the Sun Java Identity Management Suite, the Sun Java Availability Suite, the Sun Java Web Infrastructure Suite, and now the Sun Java Integration Suite—which SeeBeyond will be referred to. Sun made the announcement Tuesday morning prior to the opening of the JavaOne conference here.

Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc., said the acquisition of SeeBeyond Technology Corp. positions Sun with the industrys most complete platform for the development, deployment and management of enterprise applications.

"We now jump right to the front of the business integration market—with Solaris 10, with the Java Enterprise System stack, with all the identity management and directory and interoperability with Microsoft, with all the service-oriented architecture, and all the enterprise service bus capabilities built around JBI [Java Business Integration], and now SeeBeyond right on top of this," McNealy said.

Jim Demetriades, founder and chief executive of Monrovia, Calif.-based SeeBeyond, said, "This is the next logical step in addressing aggressively a huge market opportunity in the enterprise application development space." Demetriades said SeeBeyond is "the only completely organically developed integration offering available on the market."

Sun and SeeBeyond estimated the enterprise application development space to be an opportunity worth about $5 billion, and Jonathan Schwartz, Suns president and chief operating officer, said, "We plan on taking half of that."

Demetriades said that although SeeBeyond is smaller than some of its competitors such as Tibco Software Inc. and others, he described them as "band-aid companies" with "pieced-together solutions."

Click here to read about Sun outlining the next two versions of Java.

McNealy said the two companies are a good fit. "We looked around, we looked around hard, and we didnt see anything out there that had the capabilities ICAN 5 had. I believe the cultures are a natural fit—theyre a good left-coaster out here in California. I think we have really built an opportunity to go after the $5 billion enterprise application platform space."

Moreover, "We have a complete SOA story with this combination," McNealy said. "SeeBeyond developed on Solaris, they use NetBeans, and in August theyll be shipping ICAN 5.1, which will be able to deploy apps on the Sun application server, which we open-sourced yesterday."

In addition, the combination of Sun and SeeBeyond "allows you to preserve your investment in your legacy systems—you wrap them up and present them as reusable services and then build composite apps out of these distributed Web services."

Check out a slide show from the JavaOne 2005 show.

John Loiacono, Suns executive vice president of software, said this deal will complete the Java Enterprise System with the addition of a sixth suite. However, as Loiacono and others have said that Suns ultimate goal is to open-source all of the components of the JES stack, he said there was no time frame for when the ICAN technology might be open-sourced.

Demetriades called the deal "a brilliant move by Sun ... the combination is unstoppable."

Next Page: What about the partnership mentality?

Partnership Mentality

?"> Said Suns Schwartz, "Whats very obvious to us is software is the leading edge of large-scale revenue opportunities going forward." But Sun is not leaving behind its partnership mentality. "Well continue to partner with a diversity of industry participants, especially those with vertical market expertise," he said. "But whats become evident is customers want a platform approach."

Added McNealy, "[Sun] is not the hot chips company that the old engineering workstation world is all about—we can still do that, but thats not going to be the lead warhead."

Neil Ward-Dutton, a partner at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, an analyst firm in Cambridge, United Kingdom, said, "This is a highly significant move for Sun, and for the enterprise software industry. SeeBeyond is one of very few specialist integration software players which survived the post-dot-com market contraction at a significant size—the others are BEA, WebMethods and Tibco."

"SeeBeyonds technology is powerful and well-liked amongst its customer base, and should prove a very useful asset as Sun continues to strive to improve its enterprise software credentials, and plug the holes in its Java Enterprise System offering."

But Ward-Dutton offered some advice to Sun, including: "Please learn from past acquisition successes and failures—follow the model you used for Waveset and ensure that key management stay in place; dont let the organization dissolve as you did with Forte Software, Kiva and NetDynamics. Consider keeping the core of the organization separate from those responsible for the Java Enterprise System."

And: "SeeBeyond is an integration specialist, and a big part of its ability to deliver value comes from its lack of bias. Please dont restrict the ability of SeeBeyond to deploy to platforms other than Solaris—keep all environments on a level playing field."

Sun has introduced an early-access program for developer tools. Click here to read more.

Jason Bloomberg, an analyst at Waltham, Mass.-based ZapThink LLC, said, "Sun and SeeBeyond have complementary product lines and similar philosophies, so the acquisition is a good fit in that sense."

"Sun, however, has had a spotty track record for acquisitions, and SeeBeyonds market for tightly coupled, single-platform EAI is rapidly disappearing. The two companies have ostensibly been committed to SOA for a while now, but both firms centered their SOA efforts on Javas write once, run anywhere portability value proposition, which is fundamentally at odds with SOAs interoperability-centric value prop.

"The combination of the two companies, therefore, is shaping up as a dumb and dumber approach to SOA, as competing vendors like BEA and Sonic Software hammer out solutions that better address the agility and heterogeneity needs of todays enterprises."

Mark Stahlman, an analyst at New York-based Caris & Co., was big on the deal, reiterating a "buy" rating on the company after having praised Suns news on Monday regarding getting IBM to renew its Java license and to port its WebSphere middleware to Solaris. "We think this is quite important," Stahlman said.

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