By this time next week, IBM will have bought Sun at a cut-rate price. I’d long thought Sun was going to down for the count, so the news that IBM was moving in didn’t surprise me. What happens next though? Specifically, what’s going to happen to Sun’s product lines? As a long-time watcher of both Sun and IBM, here are my best guesses.
1) Solaris/OpenSolaris: Could IBM just kill this pair of operating systems? No, I can’t see that. Solaris has too many customers even now. What I can’t see though is IBM spending any more money on developing Solaris.
IBM already has its own house-brand of Unix, AIX, and Big Blue had invested a billion dollars in Linux back when most people were still ignoring the penguin. Besides, the Unix server market share has been dwindling for years. Sure, IBM plus Sun equals the lion’s share of the Unix market, but it’s a dying market.
OpenSolaris will likely live on as a purely community-based operating system. After failing to gain any real traction against Linux, I expect it to become like the BSD operating systems: useful in niches and with a strong, core group of developers, but never to become a major operating system power.