In addition, gaining Sun's high-end server business-as well as the x86 systems-would give IBM a platform of servers that run Solaris, which would be a big advantage, said IDC analyst Vernon Turner.
IBM would also benefit from gaining Sun's SPARC chip development work, particularly with Sun's CMT (Chip Multithreading) technology, said Farina, of Technology Business Research.
"[With its Power Architecture], IBM has focused on getting the clock speed up," he said. "But with Sun, they're more focused on thread levels and increasing the throughput. ... There's enough differentiation [in the chip technologies] one wouldn't cannibalize the other."
Sun also has a push under way to integrate solid-state disk memory throughout its server and storage lineups.
In the x86 server space, most analysts said IBM probably would simply absorb Sun's business into its own Series x line.
Clabby said there is little in Sun's server arsenal that IBM would keep.
"As for the technology advantage by assuming Sun's hardware-practically nil," he said.
But IDC's Turner said that the value of Sun's server business is less the hardware than what it brings with it, such as the customers and the integration with such technologies as Java and Solaris.
He also pointed out that Sun has a particular strength in the telecommunications space, which will continue to grow in prominence as vendors like IBM and others continue to push the idea of a "connected planet." Having those customers in-house will be valuable to IBM.
"There's a lot to keep," he said. "Sun has a lot of core technologies that are important to a lot of enterprises, and there are a lot of synergies between those two companies, particularly [regarding] open-source [initiatives]."