IBM has opened acquisition talks with Sun Microsystems, raising the prospect of a massive consolidation of the software, server and storage markets.
According to the Wall Street Journal IBM has mooted a price of $6.5bn. Sun is currently capitalised at $3.7bn ($4.97/share), but its share price has persistently fallen since the heady days of the dot com boom and has under-performed that of its computer systems competitors over the last few years, making it a much less expensive purchase now that it would have been three or four years ago. Legions of long-term Sun investors who have seen the value of their Sun holdings decline drastically will breathe a huge sigh of relief as they see the potential to make some money at least.
Any deal would likely bring very close scrutiny from regulatory authorities, given both firm’s roles in the server, storage and systems software markets.
The Journal goes on to claim Sun has been hawking itself around the industry recently, looking to be bought, with HP also mentioned as one potential sugar daddy. If true, this confirms the perception that Sun has been impoverished by CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s strategy of moving into open source software and relying for revenue growth on converting Solaris, Java and MySQL developers’ into purchasers of Sun’s servers, storage and services.
IBM will be unveiling a number of new cloud computing technologies at its CIO Leadership Exchange in Shanghai and its Pulse Conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday with networking giant and Cisco-rival Juniper Networks by its side. We reported last summer that Juniper is doing a good job of making inroads on Cisco’s turf, and this partnership with IBM is a sign of Juniper’s continued strength in the cloud computing sphere, an area where Cisco is also hoping to make its mark.
IBM, through its Blue Cloud Initiative, is rolling out a number of new cloud computing solutions for enterprise users, including joint Juniper Networks and IBM or businesses to install hybrid public-private cloud capabilities across IBM’s 13 “Cloud Labs” spread across the world. The companies have created technology that would allows enterprises to extend their private clouds to remote servers in a secure public cloud at the click of a button. Once the technology is installed in the Cloud Labs, businesses can easily switch clients workloads when resources become constrained.
With cloud computing possibly representing a $42 billion market by 2012, it comes of no surprise that IBM is making some pretty hefty investments in its Blue Cloud Initiative.
In 2012, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will fire up an I.B.M. BlueGene machine expected to reach 20 petaflops of performance. That means the system — called Sequoia — will handle a quadrillion mathematical operations per second and run about 10 times faster than today’s top supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which was also built by I.B.M.
The United States Department of Energy continues to finance these behemoths, using them to model the decay of our nuclear weapons arsenal. Such modeling is required given the ban on nuclear weapons testing, and as far as we know, the massive computers predict how weapons age just fine. Fingers crossed.
For the United States, the giant computers also give the government an excuse to boast about the country’s high-tech leadership.
The I.B.M. BlueGene designs remain unique in the computing industry. Most large supercomputers are constructed by melding together thousands of standard computer servers. BlueGene, by contrast, relies on custom chips and what amounts to hand-crafted innards. The specialized design caters to the types of operations handled by national labs and other scientific bodies.
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