Sun to IBM: We're willing to talk again; Big Blue not interested

Sun to IBM: We're willing to talk again; Big Blue not interested

Summary: Updated: Sun Microsystems would reportedly be willing to resume takeover talks with IBM if Big Blue says it'll commit to closing the deal. Bloomberg reports the news based on two people familiar with the matter (Techmeme).

SHARE:
26

Updated: Sun Microsystems would reportedly be willing to resume takeover talks with IBM if Big Blue says it'll commit to closing the deal. 

Bloomberg reports the news based on two people familiar with the matter (Techmeme). The two companies currently aren't talking and each one is waiting for the other to make a move. Meanwhile, CNBC reports that IBM isn't interested at any price

That puts Sun in quite a bind. 

Here's why Sun is so willing to talk to IBM again....

Fairly obvious why Sun would want to talk eh? But it's not all about the stock chart. There's another little problem: Sun doesn't have any other interested parties. Meanwhile, rivals are preparing campaigns to poach customers. See Dell's latest move---perfectly timed at the exact moment Sun announced its server refresh.

Update: Wall Street doesn't appear to be buying into Sun's prospects. In early trading, Sun spiked, but then quickly retreated. It's one thing if Sun wants to talk. It's quite another thing if IBM wants to talk. 

More:

Topics: Hardware, Banking, IBM, Oracle, Servers

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

26 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I hope IBM know what they're doing

    If they play chicken with Sun to get a bargain
    on the yummy pieces, they still risk throwing
    Java into years of uncertainty and customer
    defection. And that'll hurt part of IBMs
    business as well.

    I bet this is a game Microsoft are watching
    closely. Their .NET platform could be one of
    the biggest beneficiaries of Java chaos. And
    with that Windows servers.

    I think it safe to say at this point that
    JavaFX is a lame duck. Late to the game, smart
    phone market shifted b/c of iPhone and now an
    uncertain future.

    Any takers for OpenOffice? Anyone want to pay
    good money for guaranteed years of expenses?
    It's open source so you it will be good
    business. (not)
    honeymonster
    • Microsoft could give a shit

      Sun has been irrelevant to them for years. And as far as Java, .NET has already won. Scott McPuke's chief boot licking moron Gosling made sure of that.
      jackbond
      • I'm not so sure ...

        ... that Sun's Java IP would be of significant value to Microsoft. (Not to Menion UNIX IP.) Its the SPARC side of the house that would be an albatross around Microsoft's neck.
        M Wagner
        • Java IP is of no use to Microsoft

          That would only land them another monopoly
          headache.

          But a toothless (marred by uncertainty)
          competitor isn't much of a competitor. It would
          cause even greater defection to .NET and other
          technologies.

          For enterprises .NET will be the obvious
          choice. And .NET can still take a lot of market
          share before being considered a monopoly.
          honeymonster
      • Laughable ...

        "And as far as Java, .NET has already won."

        Java ranked #1 in language popularity at the Tiobe index:
        http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html
        ... well ahead of VB and C#, which are at 5 and 7, respectively.

        Dice.com job searches for Java: 8153 matches

        Dice.com job searches for C#: 3804 matches
        Dice.com job searches for VB: 1834 matches
        = 5638 total

        You get similar numbers when doing job posting searchs on Java, C#, and VB at Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Craigs List.

        .Net has support from Microsoft and Novell (Mono). Java has support from IBM, Oracle, Google, SAP, HP, and yes, Sun.

        And Java remains at the top, in spite of the Sun albatross hanging around it's neck.

        So now that I've slapped you in the face with reality, backed up by actual facts, and proven your ignorance beyond a shadow of a doubt, care to add anything useful to the discussion?
        super_J
        • Not so fast

          http://www.indeed.com/jobtrends?
          q=java+or+j2ee,+.net+or+C%23&l=

          See, when pinning the platform+language against
          platform+language, C#/.NET comes out on top.

          But that was not the point, as that's history.
          The point is that uncertainty about Suns future
          (they can no longer go it alone) will reflect
          badly on the prospects of Java, and
          <i>especially</i> nascent Java technology with
          little to no backup from the rest of the
          industry. Case in point: JavaFX.

          Java (the language) is already severely lagging
          behind the competition in development, both the
          more agile like Ruby, PHP, Python and the
          primary enterprise competitor, C#. The JCP has
          grinded to a halt. Even though virtually
          everybody else has seen the light with
          closures, Java is stubbornly sticking to
          elaborate and low-productive misconceived
          "simpleness". Java is now considered a low-
          productivity stack in many enterprises,
          prompting them to flirt with agile alternatives
          and .NET.

          JavaFX is going <b>nowhere</b>. Understandably
          nobody want to tie their future to a johnny-
          come-lately tech with many components still
          MIA, marred by technical glitches, next to no
          industry support, severely lagging on OS X and
          no future on the iPhone. And now with a
          questionable future. Which Sun buyer would
          continue JavaFX? IBM? Ha! they are only in it
          for the servers and the consulting. Oracle? Ha!
          They would only be in it for upselling.
          honeymonster
          • Some decent points, but ...

            ... there are caveats.

            Yes, JavaFX, while having some interesting ideas and qualities, is most certainly DOA.

            But Ruby, PHP, and Python? All great languages that I'm quite fond of, but just how many (good) paying jobs are there out there for those languages? Just look it up. As the principle bread winner supporting my wife and two daughters, I prefer to priortize on technologies that have good market demand.

            Closures seeing the light? Far from it. While I think closures, as well as the functional programming paradigm, have a great future, and are very interesting, they're far from being in large usage, or demand. At this point in time, Closures/FP are darlings in blogs and message forums, but I see very little use of it in paid programming jobs, or even free open source stuff. And people in the Java camp are very much split on whether or not to add closures - some are adamantly for it, and some are adamantly against it. Then look at C# - which has delegates and lambdas - both nice features. But again, I don't see tons of FP in real C# production code. And Anders Hejlsberg himself said that continually adding features has a cost in language size and complexity (even though he's all for adding features).

            The point is, latest fashions don't always translate into practical, real-world usage. And regular, every day level programmers are only now truely grasping the Object Oriented paradigm, and you expect them to fully grasp, and fully properly utilize the functional paradigm? At this point in time, we're far from that.

            "Java is stubbornly sticking to
            elaborate and low-productive misconceived
            "simpleness"."

            But remember the common complaints about C++ complexity, due to miriad features? Java's strength comes from narrowing down what's supported, and thus making it more understandable for a larger amount of programmers, and more importantly, more maintainable and extensible over time - something that is of the utmost importance in enterprise computing.

            Anyway, more cutting edge, "agile" features can be had from JVM supported languages like Groovy, Scala, Clojure, Jython, Rhino (Javascript), and JRuby.

            I find that quite attractive. The big enterprise production code can rely on the stable, and more "simple" (feature-wise) Java language, but programmers are free to add more cutting edge, agile stuff with the other JVM supported languages - and integrate easily with the legacy Java stuff - because they all compile to the same byte codes and use the same Java libraries.

            And as far as Sun's troubles go - ultimately, it's not relevant to the health of the Java language. Java is fully supported by IBM, Oracle, Google, SAP, and Red Hat, all of whom have major business investment in Java, and will always move it forward. Add to that the miriad open source projects based on Java, and the fact that it's GPL'd, and you have a formula for "no worries", in terms of the future of the language and platform.

            I just wish Sun would hurry up and die, or get sold off, so that everyone can stop needlessly worrying, and fanboys of other languages/platforms can have one less reason to bag on Java.
            super_J
          • One problem, free software needs sponsors

            It appears as though some people think that if Sun goes away, that it will allow greater freedom with all the Open Source software with which Sun is associated. Exactly who do these people think will pay for these communities to continue collaborating online, storing and network sharing a TB of source and binaries, and allow a lot of really smart people to sit and focus? If you have no other reason to support Sun Microsystems, then at least sit down and figure out how their products can justify purchase, on behalf of the Public Domain community. Sun servers and Solaris 10 are outrageously amazing, once you understand the technologies, although I realize that for Sun to attract the masses, they need more point 'n' click GUI's with bright colors.
            vision@...
          • If Sun dies ...

            ... IBM, Oracle, Google, SAP, Red Hat - one of these (or all), will pick up the slack. At that point, perhaps Java could be a non-profit foundation, like Eclipse, Mozilla, or the Linux Foundation, which receives contributions from corporate donors - a model that has prove spectacularly successful for those organizations.
            super_J
          • Sun's death may be Java's gain.

            I know many new school guys think a programming language has to be tied to a company to succeed but thats simply not the case. C/C++ anyone?

            If anything this could be what allows Java to succeed in becoming the next C/C++. There are far too many projects out there for it to just up and die and you certainly aren't going to see everyone start porting to .Net when you have so much money invested in non Windows platforms. If anything IBM will probably end up having a stake in Java but hopefully won't stifle it. With a company out of the way the community of developers may just be able to get what they want most out of the platform.

            I don't know why you keep talking about JavaFX. Its dead just like Silverlight, AIR/Flex and all the other ridiculous RIA technologies. They are all just concrete implementations of buzz.

            And as for Open Office...no one needs to pick it up...its open. I could see IBM picking it up however and merging it into their Symphony platform if not replacing it. I'd say Gnome would adopt is to compete with KDE but I'm sure Icaza will stop any thoughts of that.
            storm14k
          • Good points

            "<i>I know many new school guys think a
            programming language has to be tied to a
            company to succeed but thats simply not the
            case. C/C++ anyone?</i>"

            But then I think of PHP. And shudder. It's an
            abomination.

            "<i>There are far too many projects out there
            for it to just up and die and you certainly
            aren't going to see everyone start porting to
            .Net when you have so much money invested in
            non Windows platforms.</i>"

            I would not expect a single project to be
            ported to .NET because of a temporal
            uncertainty with Javas future. But the reality
            is that most shops have both Java and .NET. And
            with one of the platforms lagging behind (or
            even unjustly <i>perceived</i> so) in
            productivity - or developer appeal - could very
            well push <i>new</i> projects more in the .NET
            direction. Certainly there no doubts about the
            .NET platform viability anymore.

            "<i>If anything IBM will probably end up having
            a stake in Java but hopefully won't stifle
            it.</i>"

            I agree that Java is much too big to simply
            die. Too many heavyweights (IBM, Oracle, SAP)
            have too much investment for that to happen.
            However, that does not preclude an intermittent
            uncertainty or even chaos if IBM acts too
            bullish about this. Already the JCP have been
            practically at a standstill for years. More of
            the same and you'll see more developers and
            more gurus leave for alternatives. Risk adverse
            customers may develop a preference for .NET
            during that period. Also keep in mind that Java
            (the language) and the JDKs are also the
            foundations on which other frameworks are
            built. Already Microsoft is harvesting goodwill
            and productivity gains from their LINQ
            technology, which really does cut down and
            simplify code dramatically (both DB code,
            loops, XML handling, set/hashtable juggling
            etc).

            "<i>And as for Open Office...no one needs to
            pick it up...its open. I could see IBM picking
            it up however and merging it into their
            Symphony platform if not replacing it. I'd say
            Gnome would adopt is to compete with KDE but
            I'm sure Icaza will stop any thoughts of
            that.</i>"

            It is only semi-open. Sun has failed to build a
            community. The project is still driven by a
            large team of Sun engineers. It is an
            enormously expensive undertaking. Except for
            perhaps IBM I just don't see who would be
            interested in footing the bill for OO. It is
            certainly out of Gnomes league. And with no
            sponsor and no community, how will it progress?
            It is still lagging the 800lbs gorilla, and a
            small outfit would have a hard time just
            keeping up with bugfixing.
            honeymonster
      • .net has been losing ground to java for years

        It's a matter a months before M$ discontinues it and Novell kills mono too.
        With tail between his legs, Ballmer will go to Sun to buy an expensive java license for windoze!
        That would provide funds for Java development in the future.
        Linux Geek
        • Wishful thinking

          does not reality make.

          Writing M$ and Windoze only reveals your age.

          Sun already pressured $$$ from Microsoft. And
          spend them unwisely. McNealy bought StarOffice
          in a futile attempt at killing the MS Office
          cash cow. It ends up killing his own company
          and damaging open source reputation with it. Oh
          the irony.

          honeymonster
  • RE: Sun to IBM: We're willing to talk again; Big Blue not interested

    Did anyone else think of that Swiffer mop commercial when the mop is looking at the lady and that "baby come back!" song is playing in the background?
    Loverock Davidson
  • I think McNealy shot Sun in the head ...

    He is a smart man but he has a big mouth and IBM simply doesn't need Sun bad enough to put up with his posturing.

    By acquiring Sun, IBM picks up considerable Intellectual Property but little else - except a shinking customer base for which they don't have to fight HP.

    If HP doesn't want Sun, there is nobody left but Novell - and IBM could end up swallowing Novell & Sun together almost as easily as picking them off one-by-one.

    Sun needs to be part of a large, service-oriented, organization to survive as an entity and only HP & IBM fit the bill.

    Sun and Novell together represent a wealth of Intellectual Property but the value of that IP has been shrinking for years. Put that with IBMs considerable IP assets though and the picture changes considerably.

    Microsoft could also benefit from the collective IP assets of Sun and Novell but why would they want to be in the hardware business?
    M Wagner
    • Microsoft

      <i>Microsoft could also benefit from the
      collective IP assets of Sun and Novell but why
      would they want to be in the hardware business?
      </i>

      And have multiple anti-trust headaches
      (Java+.NET, StarOffice+OpenOffice+MSOffice) to
      boot?

      No, Microsoft will would love to see Suns IP
      wither slowly into non-existence. They have
      everything to gain from uncertainty about the
      future of Java and OpenOffice. They can still
      stave of antitrust concerns by pointing to the
      competition, although it will slowly loose its
      teeth.

      Perhaps the story around OpenOffice is the most
      important one. OpenOffice development is
      <b>not</b> a community effort. Indeed Sun has
      managed to repel potential contributors.
      OpenOffice is a costly endeavor and if IBM
      doesn't pick up the bill it could go very
      wrong.

      And being the poster child for open source
      development a lot of organizations would have
      to revisit the prudence of the open source
      model if OO ends up on the community graveyard.
      Microsoft has both much to gain from that:
      Teaching defectors a lession without themselves
      having a hand in it, future FUD about open
      source and still a "skin" competition to stave
      off antitrust concerns.
      honeymonster
    • Split up Sun

      Maybe Redmond would be interested in the software tech, e.g. ZFS, Java,... and the hardware market sold elsewhere, but I think the hardware may be not worth much.
      3dguru
  • IBM should acquire Sun in ALL STOCK deal

    Here is how to make the deal work.

    1. IBM acquires Sun in an ALL STOCK deal; diluting IBM common stock in the process, but conserving cash during the recession.

    2. IBM pays a premium (but only in stock) that would value Sun at above $10 a share (the reverse stock split price). This saves face for Sun shareholders.

    3. IBM commits to buying back enough stock in the open market to reverse the dilution over a period of 36 months. This saves the value of IBM stock, while conserving cash at the depths of the recession.

    The result is that IBM obtains Sun's cash without initially outlaying any cash of its own. All of the cash is conserved for operating the companies during the recession.

    There are increased dividend expenses, but the dividend expenses are reduced as the IBM stock is gradually bought back in the open market and retired.

    From an operations standpoint IBM should create 4 new divisions:
    1. Sun Server division -- combine IBM and Sun Unix servers on proprietary (Power & SPARC) chips
    2. Solaris division -- combine AIX and Solaris under Solaris brand and market as industry standard Unix;
    retain OpenSolaris as the open source version. Migrate AIX users to Solaris and encourage HP-UX users to move to Solaris. Encourage long run merger of Solaris and Linux, but don't rush it.
    3. JavaSoft division - promote Java and OpenOffice.org software on all systems from cell phones to super computers.
    4. AMP division - market MySQL data base as part of AMP (Apache, MySQL & PHP) stack on all operating systems Windows, Linux and Solaris (creating WAMP, LAMP and SAMP stacks) as entry level server applications. Promote Java based GlassFish/Websphere/LifeRay for premium high volume, more complex applications.

    MySQL should be the data base of choice for web facing applications; IBM DB2 should be the data base of choice for all other server data base applications.

    IBM should retain the IBM brand for servers based on Intel/AMD chips and offer a variety of operating systems (Windows, Red Hat Linux, Suse Linux, Ubuntu Linux, Solaris) running either natively or under virtualization software.

    Jim Callahan
    Orlando, FL
    Jim.Callahan
  • RE: Sun to IBM: We're willing to talk again; Big Blue not interested

    Did Steve Jobs beat Microsoft by offering the best technologies first, such as graphical desktop icons, mice, or SCSI disks? No! Did he turn the company around after Scully by making the computers look like Swatches? Yes! Did BETA format beat out VHS because of its vastly superior technology? Does the inability of most of the market to comprehend the genius of Sun technologies prevent them from being very highly profitable in the worst economic cycle since the depression? Could the Sun financial picture spin on a dime by using LifeSave colored transparent cases on their servers? History would appear to suggest it is possible and I've pulled plenty of projects out of the crapper that failed due to equivalent logic. At what point does the market become sophisticated enough to understand why using Sun H/W, OS, and S/W saves them a fortune; keeps their applications up and running; and prevents management from looking like idiots in 3-5, even 10, years for lack of forsight? I have to laugh every time I hear some newbie or manager compare Linux on x86/x64 with Solaris on SPARC. It is not McNealy who is delusional, but sheep who confuse sum price of chassis, CPU, disk, and memory with TCO.

    McNealy/Joy clearly rank in the league of Perot/Watson (Ross Perot was once top saleman at IBM, fulfilling his first year quote in 2 weeks), Hewlett/Packard, Jobs/Wozniak, and Gates/Ballmer. All legends of our time and certainly of the computer revolution. However, unlike everyone else, McNealy/Joy started Public Domain style software sharing long before everyone else, while everyone else kept charging very large amounts of money for everything. If Sun withdrew all of its inventions from the Public Domain and began charging for everything, the Open Source effort would possibly completely collapse.

    When McNealy is at Sun, it stays together and continues innovating. When Jobs is at Apple, the company innovates and stock rises. When Gates reduced hands-on at Microsoft, stock slid. He embodies the soul of Sun who is able to attract the top talent and perpetuate its existence.
    vision@...
    • Well Said!

      9 of the 10 largest software companies in the world bet their business on the Java platform. Ask Oracle, SAP, IBM, Yahoo, and Google for example! Sun's technology (hardware and software) is very successful where it's deployed. We hear a lot about how badly Sun is managed, we don't hear a lot of complaining about their products.
      Eleutherios