Oracle and SAP alerted to potential impact of IBM-Sun discussions

An acquisition of Sun Microsystems by IBM would change the course of Oracle and SAP's use of Java, analysts have warned.

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An acquisition of Sun Microsystems by IBM would change the course of Oracle and SAP's use of Java, analysts have warned.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that IBM and Sun are in discussions that would see Big Blue pay $6.5 billion to get Sun's servers, storage, open source software, and, of course, its crown jewel: Java.

"People view this as a merger of two hardware companies, but the software is a bigger aspect that may change IBM and other large software companies," said Ian Finley, a vice president at AMR Research.

Michael Cote, an analyst at RedMonk, pointed out that IBM controlling Java "could be something people who depend on Java will freak out about."

AMR's Finely added, "If IBM enforces control over the Java Community Process the way Microsoft controls .Net, and WebSphere becomes perceived as better middleware because of it, then IBM gets an inherent advantage. Plus, it could de-stabilise the foundations of Oracle and SAP's products because Oracle's Fusion and SAP's NetWeaver are both tightly wedded to Java."

Such divisive action, however possible, would not happen easily or quickly. Java's community process could hamstring any efforts by IBM to wrangle too much control of Java standards, said Al Gillen, program vice president for system software at IDC. "In a community-based environment, if IBM does something with Java the community doesn't like, members can fork Java," Gillen explained. "I think IBM gets that."