There’s been a lot of talk about the purported acquisition of Sun by IBM. Now Computerworld is piping in with some interesting observations. The biggest piece of news is that IBM supposedly has no interest in the hardware portion of Sun’s business. According to Computerworld, IBM only wants the software assets. If true, that’s the death knell for SPARC. I’ve wondered for ages how Sun was going to be able to keep SPARC propped up. This would finish it as a major chip architecture.

Let’s look at the list of major Sun software and technologies:

  • Java
  • OpenSolaris
  • MySQL
  • GlassFish
  • VirtualBox
  • ZFS (SAN)
  • DTrace
  • JavaFX
  • OpenOffice/StarOffice
  • NetBeans
  • Access Manager/Identity Manager
  • Web Server/Web Proxy
  • Q-Layer/Cloud software
  • SunStudio

Java is the obvious best fit. IBM already has a significant business built on and around Java. Sun products also leverage Java heavily. And Sun makes money off of licensing Java as well. The big question is whether IBM wants to fund the continuing development of the language. My guess is that they’ll continue the process of open sourcing Java in an attempt to shed the full load of development. They’ll also cease development of the IBM JVM.

OpenSolaris is much tougher to figure out. IBM still develops AIX. They still sell and support AIX. But OpenSolaris is arguably a better, more modern operating system. And features like DTrace and ZFS are already incorporated into it. But IBM doesn’t seem interested in the desktop OS space which is where OpenSolaris is going, so my guess is that IBM will start migrating technologies out of OpenSolaris into both AIX and Linux and will make OpenSolaris solely a community open source operating system.

MySQL is a competitor to DB2. But, like with Oracle, it’s not a direct competitor in all markets. IBM will probably keep MySQL and integrate technologies and teams between DB2 and MySQL.

IBM develops and sells WebSphere. I originally thought they might migrate to GlassFish because the app server market is becoming commoditized but after further reflection think they might just use GlassFish as their community edition or even completely abandon it as an open source product.

I think they’ll keep VirtualBox as a product and inject some of the technology into server virtualization and cloud computing efforts.

In addition to incorporating ZFS into their server lineup, they would keep the storage lineup Sun has built but using their own hardware.

I think they would completely can JavaFX.

IBM uses OpenOffice code in their Lotus Symphony suite. They would probably merge StarOffice and Symphony and kill off StarOffice.

IBM was the driving force behind Eclipse. Netbeans has become an excellent IDE but it still doesn’t have the penetration that Eclipse does. I think they would stop development on Netbeans and incorporate pieces like the Matisse GUI designer into Eclipse.

IBM would probably keep the IDM business and merge elements from the web server and related software into the existing WebSphere lineup.

The Q-Layer acquisition and cloud efforts would get sucked into IBM’s cloud initiatives and possibly continued as a specification.

SunStudio would get killed off.