Business Technology: Score One For The Customers

So why exactly did Microsoft and Sun agree to kiss and make up? Was it the $2 billion Microsoft is paying Sun? Or the $800 million Sun is expecting to lose in its most recently completed quarter? Or is it because you--their customers--finally told Sun and Microsoft to get over themselves and help you run your businesses?

Bob Evans, Contributor

May 7, 2004

3 Min Read

Indeed, a Yankee Group report said breakthroughs in getting the Java/Unix platform to interoperate with .Net/Windows could upset the competitive dynamics in the market.

In a report issued after the settlement announcement, Yankee Group industry analyst Dana Gardner said the prospect of Sun's technology intermingling with Microsoft's proprietary systems on a protocol level "should send shivers down the spines of other IT vendors." If the Java/Unix platform begins to play nice with .Net/Windows, it lessens the need for middleware purveyed by the likes of BEA and IBM, and for integration work in general, according to Gardner.

Meanwhile, Ballmer and three different Sun executives also went to great lengths to emphasize that customer considerations played a major role in the decision to reach this settlement.

"Our companies will continue to compete hard, but this agreement creates a new basis for cooperation that will benefit the customers of both companies," said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, in a statement.

Sun chief technology officer for software John Fowler even had the until-now audacity to actually admit that customers do not live in homogeneous environments .

"Sun recognizes that mixed environments are a reality and Sun is investing to make customers successful with Sun products in a mixed environment."

Sun president Jonathan Schwartz emphasized the potential for making Web services easier to build and deploy.

By ending hostilities and achieving greater interoperability between their products, Sun and Microsoft will "grow the market for both companies," Schwartz says. If their software works well together, customers will be able to use any platform to build Web services.

And finally, from the ultimate insult-slinger himself, Sun CEO Scott McNealy, comes a bit of insight that should give heart to every business-technology executive that solutions are possible for even the most seemingly intractable problems and obstacles foisted upon them by IT vendors. Those solutions, McNealy muses, might arise because the warring IT suppliers decide to grow up--or, they might arise because there's a new sheriff in town. Speaking of the Sun-Microsoft settlement, McNealy said,

"Maybe we've grown up, maybe they've grown up--who knows. Maybe the customers are getting more in charge these days."

Bob Evans,
Editorial Director [email protected]

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About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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