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Sun Microsystems The Almighty Buck

Available To The Right Buyer: Sun Microsystems 489

antediluvian writes "The Seattle Times reports Sun Microsystems shares surged forward on speculation the computer maker may be bought by a rival company. Prospective buyers could include Dell, IBM or Hewlett-Packard. Computer sales of rival companies have been outpacing sales of Sun's machines. Over the past three years Sun's stock has declined 92 percent."
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Available To The Right Buyer: Sun Microsystems

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  • Apple... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:08AM (#5874117)
    ...should offer to buy them. At a ridiculously low price. Turnabout, being fair play, and all. :-)
    • Re:Apple... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:41PM (#5874844) Homepage
      ...should offer to buy them. At a ridiculously low price. Turnabout, being fair play, and all. :-)

      Please no! They might win the auction.

      Apple are in prime spot to displace Sun these days. They are the only UNIX vendor committed to a proprietary UNIX that is likely to still be on offer in ten years time. IBM has already all but said it has thrown in with Linux. HPUX, Digital Unix, Irix etc are already niche market plays.

      I don't think solaris can survive, simply too few seats to be viable except as a niche. It is bound to a single hardware platform which is itself starting to look old and tired with not much hope of fending of Pentium long term, let alone Itanium.

      Apple on the other hand have a really strong desktop business by any measure but Microsoft. They have probably shiped more UNIX systems by now than any other vendor, their kit is robust and mature. Sorry Sun, you never did crack the quality manufacturing thing the way DEC did. So now you charge DEC prices for FIAT reliability.

      The other major problem Sun has is Scott. Unless he is gone by the end of the year Sun is dead. Scott has been spending his time on futile rants about Microsoft who don't even make hardware - his core market while Linux, IBM and now HP eat his lunch.

      I was eating with a senior exec of a major (F100) company who used to be a Sun shop. Scott had gone out to talk to them and his answer to everything was about stopping Microsoft. So the company concluded that they better switch from Sun quick. I then heard the exact same story a couple days later from another F100 company exec.

      The single best thing Jobs did at Apple was bury the animosity with Microsoft. He told Apple that they were going to be something so different from anyone else that what happened at Redmond did not matter. He was right, he realised that the 'Network Computer' that had been developed would flop in that market but had the potential to be a killer entry price machine with a few cosmetic tweaks - and the iMac was born.

      Sorry Scott, but now it is you or the company.

      • Just a niggle ... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sellout ( 4894 )

        Apple are in prime spot to displace Sun these days. They are the only Unix vendor committed to a proprietary Unix that is likely to still be on offer in ten years time.

        I don't think I'd say Apple has a proprietary UNIX. Their UNIX is open. It's the fourth (5th? 6th? Hard to keep track anymore) OSS BSD. I don't think any closed unices are going to survive. Apple played it smart by locking down as little as possible -- just the part that makes the users drool. Developers are happy because it's all open and

      • Re:Apple... (Score:5, Informative)

        by bob_dinosaur ( 544930 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @02:21PM (#5875291)
        I don't think you really understand Sun's core business. It's got nothing to do with the desktop and everything to do with servers.

        Sun is hurting because now I can replace my low-end and midrange boxes with commodity x86 kit running Linux for about 10-15% of the cost.

        At the mid-to-high-end (16+ processors) Sun is still viable and a good choice (I haven't seen good Intel kit that scales over 8 processors), but the volumes in that market probably aren't enough to sustain the required R&D effort, especially as Sun's consulting business - which would push their kit - isn't great. Still, I like our E10000s... they do the job we ask of them pretty well.
        • Re:Apple... (Score:3, Informative)

          Sorry, Slashdotters, but this perception that the equivalent Intel box is 10-15% of the price is utterly ludicrous. Have you seen the prices of the 210s, 240s and up?
          • Re:Apple... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by virtual_mps ( 62997 )

            Sorry, Slashdotters, but this perception that the equivalent Intel box is 10-15% of the price is utterly ludicrous. Have you seen the prices of the 210s, 240s and up?

            Sorry, but how long have those boxes been around? Prior to the arrival of the 210's & 240's (less then a month ago, IIRC) the entry point for sun was the 100/120, which was an underpowered, overpriced heap. The next step up was a 280R, which was way too expensive for someone who just wanted a dual processor rackmount machine (or any mach

  • by linuxislandsucks ( 461335 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:08AM (#5874119) Homepage Journal
    Their buyer is SCO?

    NOw that would be ironic wouldn't it?
  • by zlowry ( 445521 ) <zach AT zachlowry DOT net> on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:11AM (#5874128) Homepage
    I really, really like Sun hardware, and I'd hate to see it all go the way of the Alpha. Plus, what would happen to Java, I wonder?
    • Java.. would at least stick around. Too many financial companies are investing in it. Too many people in general are. Worse comes to worse, someone "buys" java and continnues it, it gets put into the open or the license changes, where it might get perverted..

      Getting rid of java is like getting rid of cobol. It's hard, but it'll take a while :)
    • by Dan-DAFC ( 545776 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:38AM (#5874542) Homepage

      Java will not be disappearing any time soon. Too many big name companies (most notably IBM and Oracle) have invested too much money in Java for them to let that happen. Also, with the way that Java is developed, through the Java Community Process, any potential buyer would find it difficult to exert full control over the the technology. For a closed product, Java is pretty open.

      IBM would be the most obvious candidate as Java and particularly open-source Java offerings (such as the Jikes compiler and Eclipse IDE) are a big part of their software activities. They develop their own IDEs and app-servers and ship JVMs for several platforms that have routinely out-performed Sun's equivalent offerings.

      It would also be interesting to see how the SWT vs Swing issue would work out if IBM were to become Java's new guardians. Swing is the Sun graphics toolkit for Java and is the standard for client-side Java. It's fully platform independent and uses pluggable look-and-feels with lightweight components to emulate the look and feel of the native platform. SWT is IBM's alternative that is used in the Eclipse IDE. It's not quite so portable as it provides an abstraction on top of the native windowing system but it has advantages in terms of performance and closer integration with the underlying system. It breaks the write-once-run-anywhere philosophy but is growing in popularity.

      Oracle could be another contender, they too use a lot of Java, particularly for their client-side tools (which it has to be said weren't very good last time I used them) and they partner with Sun on the database/hardware front.

      Apple could be a dark horse, they have a vested interest in Java. In a world where the desktop is dominate by Microsoft, the availability of Java software is a good thing for them as it means there will always be software that runs on Macs. They have put a lot of effort into supporting Java in MacOS X and gone further than other operating systems to help Java applications fit in with the look and feel of the platform.

      A lot of people don't realise just how much Java coding is going on out there, because most of it is hidden away on the server side. This site [tiobe.com] claims that Java is the world's most popular programming language by some distance (though you may argue about the accuracy of their method of measuring these things). I also read elsewhere (can't find a link) that there are more lines of Java being written these days than any other language.

      • Java yes! Sun No! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fm6 ( 162816 )

        Java will not be disappearing any time soon. Too many big name companies (most notably IBM and Oracle) have invested too much money in Java for them to let that happen. Also, with the way that Java is developed, through the Java Community Process, any potential buyer would find it difficult to exert full control over the the technology. For a closed product, Java is pretty open.

        Sun disappearing would actually be the best thing that could happen to Java. "Community Process" notwithstanding, Sun still think

        • More likely, Sun fucked Apple in some way -- some snub somewhere that was enough to piss off Jobs. Between Ellison (CEO of Oracle, on Apple's board, insane), Jobs (insane), and McNealy (again, insane), there's more than enough ego to fuck anything up.
          • Re:Java yes! Sun No! (Score:3, Interesting)

            by fm6 ( 162816 )
            None of these guys are insane. It's just that they've long since fired anybody with the guts to tell them that their shit doesn't smell. But yeah, their biggest enemies are their own egos. Same goes for that guy you mention in your sig.
  • Sony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fallacy ( 302261 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:11AM (#5874129)
    PS3 client and Sun server backend for on-line gaming
  • stock (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v(*_*)vvvv ( 233078 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:11AM (#5874130)
    Over the past three years Sun's stock has declined 92 percent

    Gee, do the stock prices of three years ago mean anything? Yahoo and Amazon must also be bought!
    • Re:stock (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      LNUX must be bought too. From $320 a few years ago to $0.90 Friday.
    • Re:stock (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Blaine Hilton ( 626259 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:08AM (#5874391) Homepage
      It seems once a company goes public they stop worrying about actually make good products and do anything they can to increase the stock price instead of quality.

      Need to create a mySQL table [webcalc.net]?

      • Re:stock (Score:3, Insightful)

        It seems once a company goes public they stop worrying about actually make good products and do anything they can to increase the stock price instead of quality.

        That seems kind of obvious, doesn't it? I mean, by going public, a company gets a bunch of new bosses (the stockholders) who only want to increase the stock price (and thus their own wealth). That's pretty much what going public is. :)
      • Re:stock (Score:3, Informative)

        by wass ( 72082 )
        Unfortunately, you've hit the nail right on the head, both legally and financially. I realized this when my friend, who was a business major back in our undergraduate days, related how a publically-traded company's ethical priority is it's shareholders.

        He put it like this. A company cannot ethically spend money that won't, in some way, help out these shareholders. For example, if employee Joe Blow's wife needs an operation, the company can ethically pay for it because it would most likely improve Joe's

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:11AM (#5874131)
    Hey, me and my buddies poured out our loose pocket change, and dug around for some coins under the cushions on the couch.... and I think we've scraped up enough to buy Sun ourselves! The first thing I'll do is bring back the "Mr. Coffee" JavaStation, and then fire Scott McNealy. Second step is to get Ed Zander back. Then, PROFIT!!!!!
  • by PaddyM ( 45763 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:11AM (#5874132) Homepage
    Why doesn't the open source community take over Sun? Now that would be the day.
  • Won't Happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:13AM (#5874141)
    While they have a large installed customer base, it would be too expensive a proposition for any company to pick up Sun at their current market cap. Not to mention whomever buys Sun will have to basically tear down the hardware division and integrate their customer base to an x86 standard.
  • what about N1? (Score:5, Informative)

    by stonebeat.org ( 562495 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:14AM (#5874151) Homepage
    N1 is a new IT architecture from Sun. I think it is awesome new technology/architecture, but I also think there is no market for that currently. N1 was in wrong place at the wrong time. There are lot of other things that need to be done before N1 can be implemented anywhere.

    What will happen to N1 after the acquisition? IBM already has a similar product callled Tivoli. If IBM purchases Sun, N1 will either be slashed or integrated into Tivoli. Any thoughts on that?
    • Re:what about N1? (Score:4, Informative)

      by stonebeat.org ( 562495 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:21AM (#5874179) Homepage
      link to N1 N1 [sun.com]
    • Re:what about N1? (Score:5, Informative)

      by nemaispuke ( 624303 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:34AM (#5874236)
      Tivoli cannot do the same things as N1, unless IBM has added some amazing tweaks to it that nobody knows about or uses. N1 allows a data center to manage its resources based on business rather than technical requirements. The example that was given to the local Sun User's Group meeting was say your web site was being hammered by requests (Christmas). By using the console and selecting the appropriate options, you could do the following: 1. Reallocate bandwidth 2. Build and deploy new web servers to meet the demand (provided you have the hardware available) This is done with one person, not a team of system, web, and network administrators. Most of the technology to support N1 is already in Solaris (Resource Manager, Live Upgrade, Solaris Flash, JumpStart). I don't know about you, but I can find plenty of uses for N1, and companies wanting to shore up their bottom line can as well. IBM and HP are also working on similar technologies, but Sun is farther ahead and has made purchases of companies that have technology Sun needs (Sun purchased a company to get the "provisioning engine" technology for N1). If N1 actually works (and to me it does), there will be a huge change in how data centers are managed. And a lot of IT people could potentially be out of work!
      • Actually I think Tivoli and N1 are very similar product. Both of them allow bunch of hardware to be managed as a single resource rather than inidividual server/equipment. This is done using grouping of hardware into single resource, and then running agent to monitor them.

        offcourse the internals/specific of the 2 products are different, otherwise both of them will be suing each other.
    • I think you need to make a better case that Tivoli is anything like N1. My understanding of Tivoli is that it's a system management framework. N1 is attempting to move the discussion above the systems level to the applications architecture, leveraging the SunONE/iPlanet/Netscape products. What am I missing?
  • Vastly unlikely (Score:2, Insightful)

    It's a rumor, it sells shares of stock. Is it workable? No. However if they were to merge with say Cisco or HP that would be great. Both have their limitations. Sun is way the heck ahead in the 64 bit computer game, having an army of 64 bit gurus, a stable OS, and a very well respected CPU.
    • I am sure Sun is ahead in many technologies. for e.g N1 [sun.com].
      However for a company to be successful/sustainable it has to produce/RnD technologies, that can be easily marketed. If a technology has no market, it will not last long.
  • Apple (Score:5, Funny)

    by porkface ( 562081 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:15AM (#5874154) Journal
    Too bad Apple just spent their allowance.
  • Dell, IBM, Sun and HP have been openly slating eachother for quite some time right now. Funny [theinquirer.net] cartoons [theinquirer.net] around [theinquirer.net] will make it very difficult for any company to be happy with their overlords^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H bosses who have just bought them out. If anyone buys Sun then they will probably kill it off reather than have to manige a very angry workforce.
  • HPQW? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dubbayu_d_40 ( 622643 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:19AM (#5874172)
    Sun still makes an assload of money. Just need to reduce operating expenses. I bet HP has the capability to make Sun's hardware more efficiently than Sun.

    Anyone have an idea what kind of steward HP would be for Java?

    • Re:HPQW? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by turgid ( 580780 )
      Anyone have an idea what kind of steward HP would be for Java?

      Anyone who's been on the recieving end of a HP sales droid in the last two years knows that HP's story going forward is "Windows on Itanium." You can bet your bottom dollar that if they bought Sun, they'd kill Java stone dead in favour of .NET.

  • by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:20AM (#5874174) Homepage
    To be honest, I'm not sure why anyone would want Sun. Don't get me wrong, they have some great technology and are a good company. But they remind me a little of Digital pre-Compaq buyout, great technology which became irrelevant. The move is towards x86 technology, and with 64 bit x86 become more and more viable, there is simply less and less need for the premium price paid for Sun products.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they'll be dead in a year, just I can't see their sales growing much, and quite possible slowly reversing. There are still some very high end applications where Sun products may well be the best product for the job, but they are painting themselves into a corner - that niche is getting smaller and smaller as x86 gets better and better.
    • Sun doesn't play much at the very high end. I would say that's more Cray/NEC/HP/Hitachi/Fujitsu/SGI/IBM. They play in the midrange which means they get pinched from both sides with a charge running right up the middle.


    • I would prefer to see Sun come out with more Intel-competitive products than stick with their niche. They have the potential to make astounding lower-end hardware, and if they could keep the prices low enough it would be fantastic to have more competition with Intel's lines of chips. AMD is proving to be valuable competition, but I'd also like to see more desktop hardware that doesn't aim for compatibility with Intel.
    • by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:42AM (#5874273)
      For smaller server purposes, 64-bit x86 and Itanium may be a more economical choice.

      But if you need a large memory bandwidth, I think probably still beats out Itanium, and definitely beats x86.

      If you need a whole shitload of CPUs in one box, Sparc is also a better architecture - even if Itanium can scale up to hundreds of processors, there's no OS that runs on it which can properly handle that many.
  • Hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:20AM (#5874175) Homepage
    Can I bid for it on Ebay?

  • IBM to buy Java? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moderators_are_w*nke ( 571920 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:24AM (#5874194) Journal
    I should imagine IBM are after their Java division. They're probably not interested in the servers. Whether they'd just leave them as Sun, or buy the whole lot and wind the server business down over a period of years I don't know. If they do get the servers, expect to see a lot of work go into Linux on Sparc. Mark
    • Re:IBM to buy Java? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wfmcwalter ( 124904 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:49AM (#5874302) Homepage
      The Sun and IBM java folks are, informally, intertwined in a number of ways:

      The Sun java folks used to (until last year) work from two buildings on DeAnza in Cupertino. At least one of these was an ex-Taligent building, and consequently IBM owned the furniture (I think the lease may also have been some kind of sublease thing). One time IBM wanted all their furniture back, and I believe they flat refused to sell it, forcing each Sun java employee to move out of his office into the corridor, while the facilities dudes came and swapped his desk etc. out for an essentially identical replacement.

      The sun java folks are now confined largely to Sun's Agnew's development centre, built on the site of the county mental hospital. Given that Cupertino was a totally excellent place to work, and Santa Clara most assuredly isn't, I'd guess that if the IBM folks said "we'll buy java, and y'all can come back and work in Cupertino" there would be a lot of happy people.

      One of IBM's largest Java development centres is (waitforit) on DeAnza in Cupertino, right beside the old Sun java building. Both are former Apple buildings, and a bunch of the java folks are ex-apple.

      I wouldn't put too much stead in the "disgruntled employees veto the deal" theory, mentioned above. These days, the average Silicon Valley employee cares about 1) do I get paid ? 2) does my commute get better or worse ? 3) do I get to do something that isn't totally crap ? (the former number 1, "will my stock options make me rich?" no longer figures much).

    • Re:IBM to buy Java? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by durdur ( 252098 )
      Sun runs both JavaSoft (a R&D and standards organization, basically) and a software business based on Java technology (they are calling this Sun ONE now). JavaSoft doesn't make them any money, and the Sun ONE stuff isn't getting much traction in the market. So from a pure business point of view, their "Java business" is not very attractive.

      However, right now IBM has to comply with Java standards set by Sun and other vendors in a bunch of technical committees they (IBM) don't control. They would probabl
  • What about MS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Omkar ( 618823 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:25AM (#5874199) Homepage Journal
    They've got plenty of [for mods: ill-gotten :)] money, and they've been looking to capture the server market as well.
    • Re:What about MS? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LinuxXPHybrid ( 648686 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:13AM (#5874418) Journal
      They have $45 billion in bank, but it's a dead money. They just can't move it around for various reasons (anti trust case in EU is one of reasons). Besides, even if they got away with anti trust case in US, acquiring Sun? That's 99% market dominance of software development platform (.NET and Java). That's monopoly; that's anti trust. That's illegal. MS acquiring Sun? No, that's impossible.
  • Nooooooo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by wowbagger ( 69688 ) * on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:25AM (#5874202) Homepage Journal
    Don't you see, it's all happening again!

    A computer tech company, becoming irrelevant, trying to get bought out!

    Can't you see what will happen next?


    (/me removes tongue from cheek now).
  • Why NOT Apple. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by standards ( 461431 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:28AM (#5874214)
    I dunno... does Apple really want to buy Sun?

    Apple would have to capitalize on Sun's strength - the data center.

    In addition, they'd have to save some serious operating $$$. To me, that means heading in the same direction in terms of OS and in terms of CPU architecture.

    I'm not saying it's not doable. But doing so would mean BIG changes to the customers (either of Apple, or of Sun, or both).

    And customers just don't like big change.

    Both companies are leaders in terms of technology, and Jobs is pretty darn good at marketing. He is a good desktop visionary. But can he understand the datacenter?
    • It would certainly help Sun if Apple bought them: Apple could presumably port Cocoa (and Aqua) to Solaris relatively easily (considering there already is an OpenStep for Solaris believe it or not - Sun and NeXT were, at one point, touting OpenStep as an open API for *ixen), and Solaris rejigged so it's a more natural fit.

      Sun machines could then strengthen its control over the high end workstations, and Apple's currently small server range would be complemented by Sun's respected range, which in turn woul

  • NEWS for nerds? (Score:5, Informative)

    by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:31AM (#5874221) Homepage Journal
    More like RUMORS for nerds.

    An institutional buyer made a large purchase of Sun Stock. That fueled rumors about a buyout, but it seems a lot more likely that after reporting (admittedly very modest) profits in the last quarter and one analyst recently shifting Sun to buy, some institutional buyer wanted to get some "bargain" stock that they think will appreciate well in the coming years. Given how steady the stock price has been between 3 & 4 dollars, it does seem likely that it's bottomed out, so unless you think Sun is imminently going out of business (which I sure don't) this kind of buy seems to make sense more from that standpoint than from any bs about being bought by a bigger player.

    As far as it goes, Sun's culture is so antithetical to IBM and to the "new" HP that I can't see either of them wanting to take Sun on....

    • Re:NEWS for nerds? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LinuxXPHybrid ( 648686 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:48AM (#5874295) Journal
      I cannot conceive of any Sun executive wanting to be acquired by any company. Besides, they can prevent that by buying back their shares, since they still have $5 billion in bank.

      The question was raised in the last event NC03-Q2, and Scott McNealy denied the rumor flat out. I think that he meant what he said and I cannot see how he decides to sell his company to anyone. And again, he and Sun can prevent that from happening.

      I'd think that some investor thought it's a good stock to buy. It is true that they had tough time last year, but I think that two things are true:

      1. Generally, Sun employees like working for the company. Head hunters are generally having tough time recruiting Sun (star) employees.

      2. Customers like their product and service.

      When these two are true, it's a good stock to buy even though they are not making great profit this quarter. I am just speculating, but chances are that someone/some institution figured that it's a good time to buy and they bought good chunk.

  • Hey, maybe a company named "Cobalt" can buy them and then run them into the ground!!

  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:34AM (#5874235)
    Sun's Rise Likely From a Trade, Not an Offer [thestreet.com]

    • At UBS Warburg, Jack Francis, co-head of equity trading, said the sudden surge in price followed a 5-million-share block trade, considered to be a very large buy by Wall Street standards. "That was spurring stories of a potential takeover, which doesn't make any sense at all but did add fuel to the upside," said Francis. "The rumor doesn't hold a lot of weight, but in a market like this it gets people off the fence who are looking for any story that could generate alpha."

    Anyway, Sun are currently valued at $12Bn, and have $5.5Bn sitting in the bank.
  • Stock prices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tedrlord ( 95173 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:37AM (#5874248)
    Sun's stock fell 92% in the past three years? Jesus.

    Oh wait. Everyone's stock fell around 92% in the past three years.
    • Re:Stock prices (Score:3, Informative)

      by Reziac ( 43301 )
      TECH stocks fell like rocks, yeah.

      But some of us have core stocks in other areas.. and the average hit has been about 35%. Unless you're lucky enough to own Borg-Warner, Proctor & Gamble, or a few others of like ilk.. they're worth more now than they were before the stock market's big adjustment back to reality.

    • Everyone's stock fell around 92% in the past three years.

      IBM current stock price: about $85
      IBM current stock price times 10: about $850
      Unless IBM was at $850 three years ago, it hasnt even dropped 90% (BTW, IBMs all time high is around $135-$140).

  • by carsont ( 648940 ) <tc+slashdot@jc.d ... minus threevowe> on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:38AM (#5874258)

    All the anti-Sun FUD that keeps getting posted to Slashdot reminds me of the anti-Apple FUD that was all over the media a few years ago.

    Speculation about IBM or HP buying Sun now is probably just as groundless as speculation about Sony or Disney (or Sun) buying Apple five years ago. Yeah, they're not doing as well as they used to, but the whole industry isn't, either.

    I think Sun's main problem right now is the same problem that Apple has right now: getting hardware that customers will perceive as being equal or superior to x86 in price/performance. It looks like SPARC will get there eventually, but not soon enough; I imagine they'd either have to use Opteron/Hammer on their low-end machines, or somehow make very inexpensive 1-4 processor workstations and servers to leverage SPARC's scalability (it is, after all, the Scalable Processor ARChitecture) and Solaris's superior SMP support.

    I'll admit that I have many reasons to Want To Believe that Sun will still be a strong presence in the industry when I graduate from college, but I do seriously think that rumor's of Sun's imminent death are greatly exaggerated.

    • Sun just recently went a long way towards competitive price/performance with the introduction of Fire v210 [sun.com] and Fire v240 [sun.com] servers. If you configure an x86 server with similar capabilities, you'll find the Sun price to be very good. Hardware RAID and multiple gig-ethernet adapters isn't that common configuration in a sub-$3500 server.
  • Apple's merging with Sun. They'll call the new company Snapple.
    • Funnily enough, there *was* an Apple-related company at one point in the past called Snapple. They were a group of independant Australian Apple resellers who joined together for the "synergies".

      Unfortuantely for them, they hadnt really thought it through and they went broke. On the plus side, there's a really interesting documentary running around on the short life of Snapple. You might be able to source it from ABC [abc.net.au] or sbs [sbs.com.au]
  • EDS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:47AM (#5874290)
    I am surprised no one mentioned EDS. HP and Dell both want very badly to become like the current IBM, who makes a ton of money on both hardware, OS, and services integeration. I think that should discount HP, Dell and IBM because the merger doesn't bring alot of new things to merged company.

    EDS however was the top services company until IBM decided to go into high end consulting and services business. So... it seems an EDS / Sun merger would put them both back in IBM's league. A customer could chose IBM / zOS / db2 / mainframe for a big account or EDS / solaris / oracle / sunfire at a discout.

    It also would be interesting since EDS reportedly uses big Sun servers all over the world...

    just my $0.02.
  • by rakeswell ( 538134 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:50AM (#5874306) Homepage

    I've read a lot of bitter comments on this forum about the fact that java isn't an open technology. This hasn't mattered much to me because of their community process, and otherwise open attitude, and open off-shoot projects (STL, Struts, Tomcat, etc).

    I'm not trolling here at all -- I wonder what the implications for Java could be in the face of a buyout. Obviously, that would depend in some part on the buyer. And there would always be the GNU foundations [gnu.org] free implementations. OTOH, perhaps a buyout could actually prompt Java to be handed over to a standards board.

    These are rumors though, and I can't recall ever hearing a merger/buyout rumor that actually panned out (maybe I just hear bad gossip, though), so I don't put a lot of beleif into this story. It's just speculation about what Sun might do in an x86's world .

    I will say that it's interesting to me to see how it's usually not the case that the best technologies survive. However, when looked at from a natural selection viewpoint, one realizes that since the computing ecology is shifted towards MS products, the x86 architecure hardware has an advantage, even though it isn't the best.

    Change the OS ecology, and x86 may not be the de facto architecure...

  • This is sad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:54AM (#5874324)
    I've been thinking that Sun would get bought for a year or so, and I think that it will suck for computing in general. The way I see it, if Sun were to be bought, then their product line would be reduced to their larger machines just like the Proliant servers are pretty much the only thing that survived the Compaq acquisition. This will mean a drastic decrease in the number of people using Solaris, and it will be a nitche/legacy product.

    Solaris is an incredibly mature OS. Just read the manpage for the sar command some day. Also there is Trusted Solaris, and F-C2 security certification, etc. Linux is my favorite OS, but Solaris definitely has my respect for its stability, scalability and maturity. And the number of users of Solaris would decrease dramatically if Sun were acquired. Think about how different the Microsoft userbase would be if they suddenly had no desktop presence and were only servers.

    However, I also think that Sun should hold in there. I mean a 30% drop in sales, thats almost to be expected in todays economic situation. I mean travel is down like 50-70% in some places. Also one has to keep in mind that Sun machines have a longer lifetime on average than say a PC, so thier volume of sales will be lower in comparison.

    Sun does need to get the performance of thier Sparc chips up to the others. Thier performance is a big drawback to the pricetag of a Sun machine. But everything else about thier hardware is top noche. I mean they are so anal with their hardware that they put lot numbers on each of thier ethernet cables. And their machines are just perfectly engineered. Any box that I've been inside of, I never thought "Why the hell did they put that there?".

    But, who knows maybe this will be a good thing. I mean all of their employees will go to work somewhere, and maybe Solaris and NFS sources will be opened up.

    However, if it were up to me, I'd just prefer Sun sticked around for a while.
    • Re:This is sad (Score:3, Informative)

      by nbvb ( 32836 )

      And their machines are just perfectly engineered. Any box that I've been inside of, I never thought "Why the hell did they put that there?".

      Then you've never had the uhm, privilege, of working on an Enterprise 450. What a piece of SH.T. If the server works, it works fine, but if it breaks, you're going to end up bleeding trying to fix it.

      What a mess.

      And I guess you've never had to replace 500+ CPU's due to the e-cache problem.

      Or replace PCI backplanes on SF15k's.

      Or replace CIC1 E10k system boards w

  • by abhisarda ( 638576 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:55AM (#5874332) Journal
    IBM has been making use of Java in its Websphere products and if IBM gets hold of Sun, then it can probably give Microsoft something to think about.

    HP would not even bother about Sun right now because it does not want to bite off more than it can chew. Investors would not at all take kindly to the acquistion of Sun by HP. HP right now is trying to fend off the dog that is Dell. HP does have about 13.2 billion $ in hand (Biz Journals [bizjournals.com]) but it will probably not want to mess with it right now.

    Removing Sun from the competition would help the server market by bringing some consolidation.
    What will IBM do with the Sparc chips? It is not likely to dump it for a while but after 2-3 years it may just move to Itanium and its own PowerPc chips.

    Sun has already brought in x86 systems in the lower end. Both Sun and IBM are adopting AMD's Opteron for lower and mid level systems.

    We have also got to remember the FTC. If IBM does bid for Sun then expect them to go through a tough scrutiny so as to avoid a monopoly status in the high end server industry.

    People know that Sun is able to keep customers only by chanting the reliability and customer satisfaction song. Its Ultra Sparc's are falling behind in performance and it is probably only with the Sparc V's that it can gain any semblance of competitiveness. And when are the Sparc V's going to come out? 2005 at the earliest.( News)

    Would Dell bid for Sun? Dell certainly can because it does have quite a bit of cash sitting around 9.1 billion $ as of Dec 2002 (Motley Fool [fool.com] and Yahoo ).

    What is Sun's market capitalisation? As of March 19, it was about 10.73 billion $.

    Dell does not have a foothold in the high end server market because it does not spend much of R & D as opposed to HP, IBM and Sun. Acquistion of Sun could be a easy way to compete with HP and IBM. Dell's entry could help reduce the prices of high end servers like Dell has done to the desktop market.

    If this story is indeed true then it would be the most talked about merger. Competition for customers paying money for big tin has only gotten worse after the tech meltdown.

    Personally I feel that the Sun bid is just a rumor like the Universal/Apple deal. If anyone is to believe it, then Sun or whoever is buying them have to publicly state that they are looking into this deal. Maybe the coming weeks will tell us more.
    • by n3rd ( 111397 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:24AM (#5874473)
      Here's what people don't understand: When it comes to SPARC it's not about pure Mhz, it's about being efficent.

      Check out the SPEC scores. SPARC 1.2 Ghz have the same score a Pentium 4 2.4 Ghz. We all know about lies and benchmarks, but it seems to show that Mhz isn't the whole story.

      The other thing people miss is the future. I would suggest checking out this article [eetimes.com] about Niagara. If Sun pulls this off, it will be *huge*.

      I don't see Sun being purchased anytime soon or at least not in any kind of a mutual agreement. They have plenty to keep going for, both currently and in the future.
      • Check out the SPEC scores. SPARC 1.2 Ghz have the same score a Pentium 4 2.4 Ghz. We all know about lies and benchmarks, but it seems to show that Mhz isn't the whole story.

        You are comparing a CPU that was released very recently against one that has been out for a couple years. This should make it apparent that if you compare Sun's fastest CPU to Intel's fastest CPU, the Intel is significantly faster. When you attempt to compare at the same price point, you find that it's impossible - you can buy many f

    • by ChaoticChaos ( 603248 ) * <l3sr-v4cf@NoSpAM.spamex.com> on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:28AM (#5874494)
      The only right fit for Java is IBM.

      Dell is seen as a hardware company.
      HP is seen largely as a hardware company.

      The Apple notion is laughable. Totally. If Apple had control of Java, the only upshot is that you would be able to choose the programmer development environment in several colors. They'd probably put Javadocs on the iPod too. Somehow.

      IBM is seen as an high-end architecure, software, systems, hardware company. IBM would add stature to Java. All of these other companies would drag Java's credibility down.

  • IBM likes Java... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:58AM (#5874342)
    I bet it's IBM - they have invested a lot more in Java than Sun has over the past 2 years; and Java fits in with their old strategy of one platform running on several different levels of machine; and IBM also has a history (and the cash) of buying up expensive companies for just one aspect of them.

    I guess we'll see.
  • by rpiquepa ( 644694 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:00AM (#5874348) Homepage

    These kinds of rumors are a recurring phenomenon in this industry. Check for example "When will IBM buy Sun? [weblogs.com]" which is over a year now.

    Sun has a market capitalization of around $12 billion (at its current stock price of $3.75).

    To buy it with a good premium would mean a huge investment.

    And considering that Sun always stands alone and that its products -- hardware as well as software -- are not really compatible with the rest of the industry, anyone who would buy Sun would only buy its customers. But for how long?

    Sun customers are among the most loyal ones.

    And you can believe me: I was working for one of its competitors.

  • Really hope it's IBM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) * on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:11PM (#5874689) Homepage
    IBM purchasing Sun would be a big win in my opinion. HP has yet to prove that they really have a handle on the software side of their company, while IBM has done more with Java and Linux than Sun ever did. Of course they might also screw Sun up even more in trying to merge it into the corporate behemoth of IBM.
  • by Offwhite98 ( 101400 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:22PM (#5874744) Homepage
    I work in IT and a while back there was some talk internally that IBM would be taking over Sun. One of their products, Eclipse, is a not so subtle sign that IBM aspired to take the lead with Java. I believe that going forward the only value Sun would have is Java since hardware has improved dramatically for x86/64bit and PowerPC architectures, and the fact that nearly all of the Sun products that I have had to use are always of poor quality.

    By comparison, IBM has done a great job with producing great software and new frameworks. They have also contributed a great deal of software to the Apache/Jakarta and XML projects. They are already the leader in Java technology, Sun just owns the patents and copyrights behind it. IBM needs that to really allow Java to take off.

    If you leave Sun as it is for too long, it will kill Java and .NET will easily take over. I know that IBM will be able to produce the kind of Java technologies we know should have been built years ago, but Sun never got passed suing Microsoft to realize innovation, market share and better products are what matters, not patents and law suits.

    I would like to see Big Blue as the driving force behind Java.
  • anyone but dell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:34PM (#5874799)
    sun is a technology company. dell is a reseller. for a fortune 500 company, they have one of the lowest r&d budgets. all their r&d is done by intel, microsoft, and the OSS community. all they have perfected is the most efficient way to build a pc and ship it to you, oh yeah, and make cool ads, dude.

    sun is a true tech company. so is ibm, and so is apple. you might hate/love each of them, but you can't deny they innovate. dell wouldn't know what to do with java anymore than microsoft would. of course, figuring how much gates' ass mikey dell kisses, guess we know what dell would do to java. and sparc. and solaris. and...
  • by tychoS ( 200282 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:52PM (#5874896)
    Within the last coouple of years it has become possible to run mainframe software using the CICS transaction manager on SUN hardware. There are a lot of large scale applications using CICS running at large companies worldwide eg. at banks. Before this became a possibility, you could only run these applications on IBM mainframes and compatible mainframes, effectively locking the users of these applications into the IBM mainframe platform.

    This area is the last large market segment IBM mainframes has, where they are the only player, so this is a serious threat to the IBM mainframes and therefore to all the services&support contracts, and peripheral systems that comes with IBM mainframe ownership.

    The recent 100+ CPU servers from SUN and compatible Fujitsu machines as well as their mid-range machines with "hot-swap everything", and everything possible done to make software running on them 24x7x365 capable even while the hardware and OS is being upgraded, is another area where SUN is fast becoming a serious threat to the marketshare and market dominance of AS/400 and mainframes from IBM.

    For these reasons alone it would be a very smart move if IBM were to acquire SUN, because it will remove a very serious competitor for from the marketplace.

    • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @02:34PM (#5875361) Journal
      Correction: Sun is the second most serious threat to IBM dominance. All of the points you make are true, and in fact scaling up to the mainframe (Sun's model) may be a much more viable technological (and even business) model than scaling down from the mainframe (IBM's method). Consider that Solaris on an E15k domain is pretty much the same as Solaris on a Sparc10, which is similar to any other Unix out there. However AIX is neither similar to other Unices, nor much like OS/390. Sun has the potential to do great damage to IBM, if they survive.

      HOWEVER, I still say that Sun is only the SECOND biggest threat. Who then--Microsoft? Nope.

      IBM's biggest danger is IBM. They STILL believe to an unhealthy degree that they're the Only Shop In Town, and that The Market Will Follow Their Lead. They don't yet (!!!!!!) understand that the market has already just about written them off, desktops are commodity items, service in the mid- to high-end range can come from ANYWHERE, and that they'll have to be the BEST offering out there to get anyone's business.

      That said, I still think that IBM is the most likely company to buy Sun. Sadly.
  • Because Sun has $12Bn in market capitalization and $5.5Bn in cash on hand, I think the question isn't who's going to buy Sun, but rather who should Sun buy?

    I have maintained for some time that Sun should purchase RedHat (current market cap. approx. $1Bn if my sources [yahoo.com] are correct), go whole hog into promoting Linux, move the advanced features from Solaris into Linux, and turn their hardware into the best darned high-end Linux servers and desktops you ever saw.

    First of all, IBM is already trying to do this to Sun with high-end servers. New action is needed to defend that ground.

    Second, putting the weight of Sun and the open source devotees behind Linux application development together can help cut into Microsoft's server market share and potentially even make some more desktop inroads.

    There's probably no getting Sun out of the hardware business. But unless they harness a mass movement behind the software needed for their systems, they face the prospect of being the Apple of the UNIX server world: well-regarded but largely unused.

    • the direction of Sun is what's really important. Less and less market share of hardware, poorly performing architecture on the low and mid range, and their refusal to promote and develop Linux on the high end because of fear it will hurt solaris sales.

      I see no future for Sun now that Linux has gained the high end enterprise system features in the kernel, and the related high end datacenter administration tools are in the works.

      Sun is dying, and Linux is killing it.
  • Irrelevant? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nbahi15 ( 163501 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @04:29PM (#5876348) Homepage
    My team mates and I have been using Linux on our desktops since we arrived at our present position several years ago. However we still can't justify a move from Sun hardware and Solaris. The price point and quality are too good.

    If Intel compatible machines would put in OpenFirmware or equivalent, remove keyboard and monitor, and allow power management/console access through a single RJ-45 serial connector at a similar price point we could talk. Sun Fire v100 has this in a 1U for $995 retail.

    What I'm trying to point out is that Intel machines have an incredible amount of horsepower but have consistently failed on bringing managability in at a reasonable price.

    Further I think Sun is in the course of reinventing itself. They are supporting numerous open source efforts, looking for Solaris to Linux exit strategies, and moving away from proprietary hardware that kept its price point high. Just within the last few generations of hardware look at the changes. Say goodbye to SBUS for PCI, special memory for DDR, standard monitors. Similar to the reinvention Apple has gone through isn't it?
  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @09:01PM (#5877985) Homepage Journal
    Guys: do you have an interest in Sun been bought or do you keep pushing these unsubstantiated rumours out of the goodness of your hearts?

    I mean, honestly, you have been pushing this crap about Sun for several months now, every single snippet found by somebody about Sun's demise is dutifully put in the frontpage of this well loved, but some times ailing, site.

    What is it with Sun that opens a wound with you?

    Inquiring minds would like to know.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.