IBM's interest in buying Sun Microsystems has Java and open-source community members expressing both hopes and fears about the implications of such a deal on the tools, applications and open-source projects they use every day.
Big Blue is in advanced talks to buy Sun, and analysts said a deal would make strategic sense for both companies -- such as by providing a stronger sales channel for Sun's software and a large installed base of Sun server customers for IBM – there is some trepidation in the Java world.
One person posting to the Java developer community site Javalobby expressed worry that IBM would not expend much effort supporting Sun's NetBeans IDE (integrated development environment) and instead favour the IBM-backed Eclipse toolkit.
"What would be the point of having two IDEs by the same company? Especially in these economic times," said user 'WaiHo.'
"Day two after IBM takes over Sun, it announces that 'because of budget needs' they will drop NetBeans, as well as every other product for which IBM has an alternative (i.e., with which IBM has been competing)."
Another poster, "jexenberger," speculated that products in danger could include the GlassFish application server -- which has a counterpart in IBM's WebSphere -- and even commercial support for Sun's open-source MySQL database. "Ugh, now they'll start punting [IBM] DB/2 as the commercial option."
But others predicted a better outcome if IBM buys Sun.
"When I think about how this could impact Java, I can only see positives," said poster James Sugrue. "A company such as IBM could inject more money into Java development. When I think about the company who gave us Eclipse having more of an investment in Java, it's difficult to see any negatives."
And Java architect Fabrizio Giudici pointed out in a blog post that Sun's open-source products have "excellent momentum in their related communities" and the code could be forked into new projects.
"This could mean more (unpaid) work for us at the beginning, but market opportunities often arise when you don't expect," he said.
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