Not that finding another owner would be easy: "They are well down the road to considering themselves part of Oracle, so the logistics of finding another buyer are difficult," he noted -- especially because Sun reportedly is losing $100 million a month, O'Grady said. "The economic implications for Sun, if the deal falls through, are not good," he said: A new buyer would not pay as much as Oracle did.
But Sun's assets still have value even if no one ends up buying Sun as a company, O'Grady said. He would expect someone to buy Sun's Sparc business, and he would expect its Java, MySQL, GlassFish, and x86 businesses also to be sold -- perhaps to different companies.
If the buyout fails, MySQL has been reasonably independent, but Sun's other businesses would either have to find ways to go forward independently or find another buyer, said Florian Mueller, an early investor in MySQL. (He opposes Oracle's acquisition of MySQL, though he supports Oracle's acquisition of Sun if MySQL is spun out.)
However, O'Grady does not believe the merger will fail. Both Sun and Oracle are committed to the effort, he said, though he is surprised deliberations have dragged on as long as they have (the acquisition was announced in April 2009). O'Grady said he expects Oracle to "stick to its guns" in its insistence that it will not divest itself of MySQL just to get the merger approved by the EU.
Customers' contingency options
Whether the deal ultimately goes through or not, the ambiguity about the fate of Sun's products has left many to consider alternative support options. "I would expect the majority of Sun customers have contingency plans in place in the event the acquisition does fail," said O'Grady.
For customers, users of products such as MySQL have alternative choices for support such as Percona, O'Grady said. But users of products such as Sparc hardware will "have to wait and see where Sun ends up being." Some customers might move to another hardware platform while others would wait and see, he said.
Still, Mueller believes that if Oracle were to walk away from Sun, Sun's technologies would not end up unsupported or no longer developed, he said. "The brands and the technology are too strong to disappear," he said.