Blog Feed Post

Will Sun Microsystems Survive until 2018?

I will start my post by quoting Garner Group's Magic Quadrant for Application Infrastructure for Back-End Application Integration Projects 2Q07 first Caution on Sun Microsystems:

"Sun's sales force was ill-prepared for the SeeBeyond acquisition, which

significantly hurt SeeBeyond's momentum. The sales force has been trained,

but Sun must rebuild momentum in a market where growth is flattening".

In sumary, according to Gartner Group Sun sales force was not prepared for the SeeBeyond acquisition based on Seebeyond's SOA products. As a result SeeBeyond's momentum in that market disappeared and should be rebuilt (Sun lost momentum in the SOA market).

Why is this quote from the Research Note, which I read freely from BEA's Web Site, so important? It is important because it describes a Pattern.

Similar statements could be written about previous Sun initiatives and acquisitions:

1. Sun invented and built the Java programming language, but is lagging behind IBM and Borland in Java Language market share.

2. Sun built the Java Platforms (J2SE, J2EE and J2ME) but is lagging behind IBM, BEA, Oracle and even Open Source Jboss in J2EE Application Servers market.

3. Sun acquired FORTE in 1999 .In my opinion (and all leading Market Analyst firms shared this opinion) the best High-End Client/Server Application Development product. FORTE's momentum was never rebuilt again.

4. NetBeans Java Open Source Integrated Development Environment (IDE) supported by Sun is competing with another Open Source IDE Eclipse originated by IBM. Eclipse is more successful than NetBeans.

Eclipse members list includes leading vendors such as Adobe, Borland, CA, Fujitsu, Google, HP, Hitachi, Intel, Nokia, Novell, Oracle, SAP, SAS, Software AG, Tibco, Zend and even MySQL joined the Eclipse community.

NetBeans partners list is shorter and does not include many of the Java market leaders.

Amazon, eBay and Jboss are among NetBeans strategic partners. Capgemini, HP, Nokia and Wipro are NetBeans community partners.

The cited above pattern is not the only reason for predicting possible acquisition of Sun by a Mega Vendor (see also my post Vendor Survival Guide: Supermarket, Grovery and Kiosk) . Other reasons will be presented after presenting Sun's assets.

Notice, that ten years predictions could be very inaccurate, so my prediction could be wrong.

Sun's Assets

Sun his one of the three UNIX hardware leaders. The other two are IBM and HP. The UNIX servers include Operating System and other infrastructure products. Solaris Sun's UNIX is recently distributed as an Open Source product. Sun is also distributing Solaris on other platforms e.g. IBM Mainframe.

In the last years in addition to selling servers based on its SPARC processors, Sun builds and sells servers based on other vendors processors, mainly AMD's processors but also Intel's processors.

  • Storage hardware

Sun manufactures Storage hardware such as Disks and Tapes systems. On

2005 Sun acquired StorageTek a leading tape systems manufacture.

  • Other hardware

The company produces other hardware devices such as workstations.

  • Java software

The company portfolio includes Application Server (IPlanet), participation in Open Source Application Server project (GlassFish), Enterprise solutions (JES) and Desktop solution (JDS). Because of its history as the creator of Java, Sun is leading the Community Process of the Java platform evolution.

  • SOA and Integration

Sun's solutions are mainly SeeBeyond's solutions. SeeBeyond an EAI and a SOA integration market leader, was acquired by Sun.

  • Database Management

Recently (February, 2008), the company acquired the Open Source DBMS market leader MySQL.

Sun's IDM product is a technically solid solution and a market leader. The IDM is part of the JES.

  • Office applications

The company develops and sells Office applications originated from Staroffice acquisition. A limited version was released as an Open Source project named OpenOffice.


Sun main competitors in all markets are larger vendors. The company changed its strategy few times in the last years. Too frequent strategy changes reflect business dilemma (DEC's last years prior to being acquired by Compaq were characterized by frequent strategy changes).

The departure of Sun's Chairman and co-founder Scott McNealy is another sign showing difficulties


The server processors market is consolidated. Sun will not be able to compete for Long Term with Intel, AMD and IBM using its own SPARC processors .

Sun is building new server lines based on AMD and Intel processors supports my claim.

UNIX market is shrinking gradually and Linux share is growing.

It is reasonable to predict that for the Long Term most users will tend to install Linux (RedHat, SUSE and Oracle) and not OpenSolaris UNIX.

Storage and other Hardware

Sun is a player but not a leader in this growing market.

Java Software

Despite its technically solid and innovative products and its special position as the creator and partially owner of the platform, Sun's market share is not high.

SOA and Integration

Sun is competing with Mega Vendors like: Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle and with large vendors like Tibco and Software AG/ Web Methods. Seebeyond's CAPS (formerly SeeBeyond's ICAN) includes unique capabilities for Java based SOA implementations.

Database Management

Will MySQL continue its momentum after being acquired by Sun? I do not know.

Anyway, the market leaders are Oracle, IBM and Microsoft

Office Systems

So far Microsoft is the undisputed leader in that market. IBM Lotus is another competitor. New Google Web based Office services are also emerging.

With a large installed base and loyal customers, Sun is an innovative company which has valuable assets and could be an acquisition target for one of the Mega Vendors.

For which companies SUN is a reasonable acquisition target?

Sun could be an acquisition target for vendors that are large enough to buy it and have Business affinity with it, i.e. buying it has a value proposition for them.

In my opinion there are three vendors that are fitting to these criteria.


Possible Sun acquisition could be valuable for IBM in the following aspects:

  • Leading Java community processes and enhancing its Java market share. IBM could strengthen its position as the Java market leader.
  • Hardware market share: Servers and Storage
  • UNIX market share. By acquiring Sun IBM will become the undisputed UNIX market leader
  • Database market share. MySQL in addition to its flagship DB2, Informix and other databases
  • SOA and integration

IBM integration products line includes many products added by acquisition, some times with overlapping functionality. CAPS with its unique features could be added to this collection.

IBM is experienced in acquisitions of large companies such as FileNet and PWC.


Possible Sun acquisition could be valuable for HP in the following aspects:

  • Hardware market share: Servers and Storage
  • UNIX market share. By acquiring Sun, HP will become the undisputed UNIX market leader
  • Sun's IDM may augment HP's Management product line
  • Extending acquired EDS outsourcing business based on Sun's platforms and products (see my post Will HP survives till 2018? – HP's EDS acquisition First Take).

HP experience in similar acquisition of Compaq (including proprietary Alpha servers and processors and proprietary Tandem servers) and operating multiple overlapping hardware products lines as well as its Intel alliance could help HP in the merging process.

HP challenges could be entering to new markets such as databases (competing with its partner Oracle?) and Java development and Runtime products (HP unsuccessful acquisition of a Java Application Server many years ago).


At first glance it seems that EMC is not a company that would acquire Sun, However EMC acquired Data General many years ago. Data General main business lines were servers (including Operating System and Infrastructure software products) and storage. The storage line was the reason for acquiring Data General.

Possible Sun acquisition could be valuable for EMC in the following aspects:

  • Storage market share and products

The Storage Tek Cartridges systems lines could complement EMC's storage solutions.

  • IDM as a Security product extending acquired RSA Security products line
  • Expanding its software portfolio (e.g. Documentum) with new software products lines.

In case of acquiring Sun, some of EMC's challenges will be as follows:

  • Should it enter into the Servers and Operating Systems market with Sun Servers and Solaris?
  • Type and level of participation in Open Source software initiatives
  • Should it develop and market a DBMS system competing with its partners Oracle and Microsoft?

EMC strategy is to expand its business beyond its traditional storage solutions.Few years I read an interview with EMC's CEO John Tucci . He talked about EMC as a potential infrastructure vendor. In case of strategy of that kind and acquisition of Sun EMC may decide to be a player in the Servers

For which companies SUN is not a reasonable acquisition target?

I will be surprised if Microsoft or Oracle will acquire Sun. Both companies are software companies and I do not think that they would expand their business to include significant hardware business.

I will be more than surprised if Google will acquire it. Google has no experience and tradition in acquisitions of that kind and its core business is not Enterprise Infrastructure solutions.


My prediction is that there is relatively high probability that Sun will be acquired by another company in the following 10 years.

This prediction should not influence current decisions about buying and implementing Sun's solutions.

I see no other candidates except: IBM, HP and EMC for acquiring it.

It is also possible that some of Sun's assets will be bought by other companies prior to such acquisition (DEC sold business lines to Intel CA and Cabletron before being acquired by Compaq).

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Avi Rosenthal

Ari has over 30 years of experience in IT across a wide variety of technology platforms, including application development, technology selection, application and infrastructure strategies, system design, middleware and transaction management technologies and security.

Positions held include CTO for one of the largest software houses in Israel as well as the CTO position for one of the largest ministries of the Israeli government.

Latest Stories
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Your job is mostly boring. Many of the IT operations tasks you perform on a day-to-day basis are repetitive and dull. Utilizing automation can improve your work life, automating away the drudgery and embracing the passion for technology that got you started in the first place. In this presentation, I'll talk about what automation is, and how to approach implementing it in the context of IT Operations. Ned will discuss keys to success in the long term and include practical real-world examples. Ge...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it's important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. "Fly two mistakes high" is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Le...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science" is responsible for guiding the technology strategy within Hitachi Vantara for IoT and Analytics. Bill brings a balanced business-technology approach that focuses on business outcomes to drive data, analytics and technology decisions that underpin an organization's digital transformation strategy.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Sanjeev Sharma Joins November 11-13, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @CloudEXPO New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure ...