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Cisco's Chambers in 'Non-Denial Denial' About Acquiring Sun

Bloomberg News reported April 15 that Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers has said his company "probably already would have moved" on buying Sun Microsystems with some of its $34 billion cache of cash if it were seriously interested.

However, in a classic "non-denial denial" statement (remember the movie "All the President's Men"?), Chambers did not rule out a possible deal for Sun -- the addition of which would put the huge IP and telephony networking company squarely on the data center systems map.

"Cisco moves very rapidly on acquisitions," Chambers told reporter Kevin Cho at a briefing in Seoul, South Korea. "If we were going to be in an area, we would probably have already moved."

Cisco announced March 16 that it is expanding its reach into the data center systems business with its Unified Computing System initiative, which utilizes a number of key partnerships to provide an alternative to conventional server-rack setups from industry giants IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and others.

In the UCS scenario, Cisco handles all the networking and adds a new blade server with cutting-edge capabilities; EMC and NetApp provide most of the storage; VMware and Microsoft the virtualization software; BMC the provisioning, change management and configuration software; and Accenture the product solutions for customers.

If Cisco also brought Sun into the picture, it would instantly own the biggest corporate gateway to the open-source community available -- not to mention Java, MySQL, Solaris, ZFS, GlassFish and the large server/storage hardware franchises. There's a ton of valuable IP where Sun sits, no question about it, and one imagines Cisco could make good use of it all.

Sun, famously but unofficially, had talked to IBM about an acquisition for the last few months, but the talks evaporated April 4 when the company's board of directors decided to turn down IBM's offer of about $7 billion.

On the surface, things have been quiet since April 4, but eWEEK industry sources still believe there is movement in the back rooms and that an announcement may surprise us when we least expect it.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...