Sun stockholders approve merger with Oracle

The deal, still subject to regulatory approvals, was approved by 62 percent of shares

The $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle was approved by Sun stockholders on Thursday morning, Sun said.

Oracle will acquire Sun stock for $9.50 per share. Approximately 62 percent of shares of Sun common stock outstanding as of the record date voted in favor of the merger agreement. The deal still remains subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

[ Many of the issues surrounding the acquisition of Sun are discussed in this reporter's notebook written when it appeared IBM, not Oracle, would buy Sun. | For full coverage of the Oracle-Sun deal, see InfoWorld's special report. ]

Still unknown, though, is the fate of Sun technologies, such as the Sun Cloud, which is Sun's cloud computing platform, and the open source NetBeans IDE. Oracle has not been a strong advocate of cloud computing, and in the IDE space, it has supported the Eclipse IDE, which is a rival to NetBeans and the Oracle JDeveloper IDE.

Sun has become unusually quiet lately as the merger proceeds. It has been not as easy to get interviews or statements from Sun as its future fate unfolds. Legal issues surrounding mergers make companies more reluctant to talk, for fear of saying something that could wind up impacting the acquisition.

Should the merger proceed as planned, it will be interesting to watch what happens with the host of valuable technologies at Sun. Will they be discontinued? Improved? Broken out into separate open source projects? Oracle already has expressed intentions to move forward with Java, JavaFX, and Sun hardware. Oracle also has praised Sun's Solaris Unix OS.

The roles of critical Sun technologists, such as Vice President James Gosling, also will be something to watch for as the merger unfolds.

Oracle has made dozens of acquisitions in recent years, buying such name vendors as BEA Systems, Siebel Systems, and PeopleSoft. The addition of Sun is another weapon in the company's considerable arsenal in the software industry and, now, the hardware marketplace.

The once-mighty Sun has struggled financially in recent years, facing tough competition in the hardware and OS spaces from Intel boxes and Linux. The current dismal economy hasn't helped, either.

An analyst considered the vote fait acompli.

"I don't think anyone was thinking the merger would fail a vote here. Most of the people I talk to think of this as a done deal already," said analyst Michael Cote of RedMonk. "That said, among folks I talk with, the consensus on what Oracle will do with Sun is wait and see. While Oracle has talked about its intentions to keep Sun as a whole, there were reports of shopping around the hardware part, and there's overlap in the software group that will surely be de-duplicated. Despite how much we'd like to predict what's going to happen -- or even what would make sense to happen -- getting to finalizing the merger is great for us industry watchers because we're all essentially resigned to seeing how the merger actually plays out."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.