Sun's line of servers based on its own Sparc processors and Solaris operating system could face an uncertain path under IBM, which sells systems built around its Power processors and AIX software that compete directly with the Sun machines.
Another consideration is that fact that the market shares of all the major Unix operating systems - AIX, Solaris and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX - have been eroding in the face of competition from both Windows and Linux.
But Unix systems continue to be embedded within many companies, often as the platform of choice for mission-critical applications and databases.
"Sun is a company that has been based on and driven by the work of mavericks," said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT. "I think it's critical for IBM to somehow maintain the culture of Sun in a way that preserves that history of innovation. It's one of the great things about Sun."
Sun's future "has been uncertain, and their financial performance uninspiring, for some time," said Rob Enderle, an independent analyst in San Jose. "IBM, on the other hand, has emerged as nearly invulnerable in this market, having shifted largely to a services and software model."
Enderle thinks that putting Sun under IBM's control would reassure existing customers and stabilise Sun's user base. And, he said, Sun's intellectual property holdings, in particular its software, "could significantly bolster IBM's portfolio for the battles for the cloud that are to come."
Forrester analyst James Staten said “We would expect Java, Solaris, MySQL, and Indentity Management Suite to live on with the new company with the possibility of GlassFish, NetBeans, Open ESB, and Java CAPS being spun off into open source projects if they are to continue on.”
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