Do we care if IBM buys Sun?

This whole Sun IBM thing sounds like a job for a lot of MBAs, right? Not those of us who just want to keep our computers running and make sure that students and teachers can get online.

This whole Sun IBM thing sounds like a job for a lot of MBAs, right? Not those of us who just want to keep our computers running and make sure that students and teachers can get online. I mean, IBM is Big Blue! They don't even make PCs or the types of servers that most of us would ever have the opportunity to use.

However, there are a few reasons that we should, in fact, care very much. The first is OpenOffice. A lot of schools have moved to OpenOffice to save licensing costs and even more students use it at home since consumer Office isn't particularly affordable. Sun, of course, controls the OpenOffice project, IBM has their Symphony product based on OO.org, and Sun also sells StarOffice (based on OO.org). The big hope is that OpenOffice will live on and IBM will find some cool way to advance its development. The worry is that IBM will look to monetize OpenOffice in some way that doesn't keep it free and/or competitive with Microsoft's products.

Another concern is Sun's recent commitments to education and investments by a number of districts and schools in Sun software. Sun isn't exactly beating Dell or HP in schools, but they have brought desktop virtualization into a lot of schools and have really made Solaris a great virtualization platform. Many universities have investments in Sun workstations and servers as well and it seems far-fetched for IBM to want to hang on to Sparc-based technologies when they already produce a powerful line of chips.

Quite frankly, IBM seems to be getting a good deal at $6.5 billion for MySQL, Java, and OpenOffice. MySQL, by the way, is the basis for a whole lot of student information systems and web-based applications upon which schools rely.

While IBM has a solid commitment to open source, their commitment to education (aside from making supercomputers for universities) remains to be seen, unlike Sun, which has dumped money it didn't really have into K-12 and university-level educational initiatives. We should most definitely care about this buyout in Ed Tech.

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