IBM + Sun: Too Late For Open Source?

Anything IBM could acquire from Sun's existing open source portfolio, it could develop on its own or buy more cost effectively from another vendor, analysts suggest.

Ed Scannell, Contributor

March 18, 2009

1 Min Read

IBM could pick up some market share in the server hardware relatively cheaply, if indeed the rumored price tag remains at around $6.5 billion, against Hewlett-Packard and other archrivals.

But some industry observers say there would be too many questions about how the two companies would solve overlaps between its respective server operating systems and middleware products. Even if IBM wanted to acquire Sun's GlassFish applications server or Open Solaris, for instance, it could do so much more cheaply by simply licensing it.

And while Sun has had decent success with OpenOffice, IBM hasn't exhibited any interest in open source desktop productivity software since it sold off its PC business to Lenovo a few years ago.

A merger several years ago would have created a significantly more powerful force in the industry given Sun's position in key markets back then. But given Sun's various difficulties in the hardware server market and its inability to create best-selling open source applications, the company has little competitive value to offer.

"Remember Scott McNealy describing the merger between HP and Compaq was like two garbage trucks colliding? Well, what is this but a garbage truck being airlifted out by a C17 Military transport," Gardner said.

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