A former Sun and BEA employee, Bill Roth, now vice president of product management at GSI Commerce, says that IBM has "smart business people" that would look at what Sun products make money. "I think that IBM will kill everything except core Java and the directory server," said Roth, who was vice president and general manager of the tools division at BEA until Oracle bought the company last year. "I think that the cloud offering [Sun Cloud, announced March 18] probably goes away," Roth adds.
Sun's Sparc processor technology would live on with Fujitsu, which has used the chip, says IDC's Eastwood. But Roth has a different view: "I think over time, [Sparc] becomes like DEC's Alpha chip. It just gets used and used in fewer machines until it finally disappears."
Solaris, meanwhile, should continue at IBM, Eastwood says. "I could see Solaris becoming the second operating platform that would run on all IBM systems much they did with Linux." But CEO of PHP tools company Zend Technologies, Andi Gutmans, is not so sure: "The big question mark is Solaris: Do they kill it and continue down their Linux strategy, or does it become IBM's open-source Unix strategy?" Still, he sees a strong reason for IBM to adopt Solaris: "Because in the past there have been tensions with some of the Linux vendors. Now they would have their own open source Unix platform."
Doubt that Sun's development tools would survive
Observers offered different perspectives on the fate of Sun's development tools and NetBeans. Reflecting on how Oracle, which bought BEA last year, took control of BEA products, Roth had little optimism. "IBM, if they're going to be as aggressive as Oracle, will kill NetBeans and kill all the development tools and offer migration to the Rational product line," Roth says.
Wasserman was more optimistic about NetBeans: "Nobody in the world says there has to be only one integrated programming environment." Zend's Gutmans calls the proposed a merger good for IBM and Java. But he believes it could spell the end of NetBeans. "With IBM having over 300 projects on Eclipse and it being a strategic platform for them, they would probably wind down the NetBeans project over time.
(Both Sun and IBM have declined to comment on the acquisition rumors or how an acquisition would affect their product portfolios.)