As a matter of fact, it is a big deal. And an even bigger deal for Linux.
Sun owns MySQL, Java, Glassfish, VirtualBox and the Solaris Operating System. It also has its own proprietary hardware known as Sparc but is it a good buy for IBM?
On the 'no' side of things, Sun is sinking in the West with no foreseeable chance of rising again in the East. Solaris and Sparc platform sales are suffering and those technologies are on the wane in the datacenter space. Sun gives Solaris away for free these days and has discounted their hardware to a suprising point. Sparc systems used to be the Apple of the datacenter--robust, yes but very expensive--but at least the Sun mice had three buttons instead of just one. The Solaris OS and the Sparc platform are burdens that IBM will have to kill off once the purchase is complete since they offer no real revenue potential.
On the 'yes' side, IBM is buying great opportunity by acquiring Java--a technology that is embedded into its WebSphere line. Purchasing Sun also gains IBM a hopeful replacement for its own languishing DB2 product. VirtualBox is a nice addition to IBM's virtualization efforts. Right now, it's little more than a Desktop-level product but work is underway to create a server version that should prove interesting to those who need a simple solution. Basically IBM is getting MySQL and Java in this purchase and little else that has value. I hope they realize this and go into the negotiations with this in mind.
So, what does this have to do with Linux?
IBM's investment in Linux and open source software is huge and their own flagship AIX runs Linux executables. IBM has also invested heavily in virtualized Linux on its MainFrame platform. Adding Java and MySQL to this mix conjures up big things for the future in my mind. For one, Cloud-based (Cloud=Linux) Java apps with MySQL backends that run on everything from cell phones to MainFrames--oh yeah, there's a big market there.
However this IBM and Sun thing plays out, I hope that it's good for both companies although I have reservations predicting anything positive for Sun.
What do you think of the possible Sun buyout by IBM? Do you think it will be good for IBM? Sun? Linux?