What the IBM-Sun talk means for open source

Critics complain IBM has been carrying more of the load on open source for a long time than Sun has. Java developers do not seem upset. My guess is that IBM's own open source advocacy could grow louder with Sun's Silicon Valley presence to justify.

We've been talking about IBM buying Sun Microsystems here at ZDNet since 2002.

I have been speculating about it since 2004. I put IBM's Thomas Watson Sr. into a Sun post in 2007. (I ran with this sunset last November.)

Now that the talk has gotten serious, with a price of $6.5 billion mentioned (and baked into the market pie) what does it mean? And why now?

As I noted in January Sun is a hardware company, not an open source play. So to me this move looks like IBM believes the worst of the recession is behind us and it's time to build again. Sun's server line is no longer that incompatible with IBM's own hardware.

This is good news for everyone. The economy has been falling like a knife blade and if IBM is now ready to catch it there should be lots of opportunity for the rest of us.

All that said I agree with our Dana Gardner. This deal looks much better for Sun. Cisco's entry into the blade server market is aimed straight at the heart of its data center niche. Scott McNealy's Washington sales pitch may well be falling on deaf ears.

IBM buying Sun would simply be Moore's Second Law in action.

What would this mean for open source? Critics complain IBM has been carrying more of the load on open source for a long time than Sun has. Java developers do not seem upset. My guess is that IBM's own open source advocacy could grow louder with Sun's Silicon Valley presence to justify.

OK, Jonathan Schwartz would probably have to cut the ponytail. But maybe it will raise needed money for charity.

So while this could indeed be a head fake, and while this deal does look better for Sun than IBM, I think the rumor is a positive development. If a deal goes down, I expect the price to be well south of the present price. But a deal is indeed possible, and it would not be a bad thing.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All