IBM Potentially Buying SunReports are swirling that IBM is seeking to acquire Sun Microsystems for at least $6.5 billion. If a deal happens, what does that mean for the future of Solaris, SPARC, MySQL and other technologies that overlap with IBM's core product portfolio? Will HP give Sun a call and offer a competitive bid? The VAR Guy offers four predictions about the potential IBM/Sun combo. Yes, Linux dominates the conversation.

Generally speaking, The VAR Guy isn't a fan of big IT mergers and acquisitions. Check the stock valuations over time and you'll find most M&As don't deliver the promised synergies (examples: Novell/WordPerfect, AT&T/NCR,  AOL/Time Warner, Symantec/Veritas and the list goes on).

Let's Make a Deal

Still, The VAR Guy gives IBM's potential Sun takeover a strong thumbs up. Why? Because Sun is stuck in purgatory but going to H***. The company has a strong line-up of open source solutions (MySQL, open source storage and so on) but those products generate pennies in revenue compared to Sun's legacy business (SPARC, Solaris, etc.), which is imploding.

If IBM does acquire Sun, The VAR Guy offers the four following predictions:
  1. Long-term phaseout of Sun's RISC-based SPARC processors. IBM already has RISC processors (the POWER line). And let's be honest: Major companies are consolidating their legacy RISC data centers around virtualized Intel servers. Generally speaking, IBM does a great job supporting legacy hardware for years and years. But the real R&D would occur on Intel with some sort of potential POWER/SPARC combo as a high-end niche.
  2. Melding of Sun Solaris with IBM AIX. Here again, the world has too many Unixes. Instead of supporting two Unixes, IBM will find a creative way to meld their feature sets into one operating system that competes with HP-UX. But ultimately, that would be a placeholder strategy because all roads lead to Linux. And let's not get into an OpenSolaris debate. The VAR Guy strongly doubts IBM would promote OpenSolaris as a major Linux alternative.
  3. MySQL Wins Big: Owned by Sun for more than a year now, MySQL's popularity continues to rise but staff departures and internal debates have bruised the open source database a bit. Backed by IBM Global Services and Big Blue's reseller channel, MySQL would thrive. And coupled with DB2, IBM gains a powerful one-two punch alternative to Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server.
  4. Linux: The biggest winner of all. By consolidating Sun's hardware and software into IBM's own technology blueprint, the march toward consolidated Linux data centers and even Linux desktops would accelerate. Trust The VAR Guy on this. He's right.

The Simple Truth

Still, IBM potentially buying Sun is really about three things: Consolidating technologies, consolidating staff and taking control of Sun's influential customer base, which includes much of Wall Street and many Global 2000 firms.

Sun customers shouldn't panic: IBM has a strong track record of legacy product support. In fact, Sun customers should worry more if IBM doesn't buy Sun...

Oh, and one closing thought: Who leaked IBM's potential bid price for Sun and why? Is somebody trying to bring HP into the negotiations to drive up the bid for Sun? Hmmm.

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