For Sun, the deal will bring an end to CEO Jonathan Schwartz's efforts to turn the struggling company around. Sun's sales have been declining since their peak during the dot-com boom, as customers turned away from its pricey Unix servers in favor of x86 systems. Sun's share price has also fallen sharply.
Efforts to attract new customers with open-source software, and Sun's belated decision to enter the x86 market, have not paid off fast enough to give it the boost it needs.
With Sun on board, Oracle now will have to figure out how to navigate the server OS and hardware business. In addition to supporting Solaris for many years, Oracle also supports its software on Linux. Though Sun's hardware does not have the reach that its former suitor IBM's does, the deal gives Oracle a combined hardware/software business model more akin to IBM's, with which it now competes in the database market.
(James Niccolai in San Francisco contributed to this report.)