Following our post last Wednesday on the rumor that IBM is holding talks to buy Sun Microsystems, the Wall Street Journal [print edition] has further confirmed the rumor. According to the article, IBM attorneys have been busy scouring the billions of documents, license agreements and contracts held within the Sun Micro information vault. The move is part of the standard IBM due diligence process in acquiring another organization. People familiar with the move indicated that it was unclear how many days it would take the legal team to perform a thorough search. My thought: O(N^2).
This is a huge move for IBM. Much of the net worth in Sun Microsystems is its pure engineer talent and patent repository. Licensing of the core Solaris code and the SPARC microprocessor result in good revenue, but lets face it, Sun does a large business outside Solaris/SPARC. Ignoring the rumored antitrust grumblings, this could be a huge win and/or loss for the HPC community. What core functionality has Sun provided to the HPC community? Sun GridEngine [formerly Genias], Lustre [formerly Cluster Filesystems], contributions to the OpenFabrics group [through Sun's development of large-scale IB switching platforms] and contributions/funding towards the Rocks cluster toolkit group at UCSD [in developing the Solaris-based compute appliances], just to name a few. IBM has complementary and/or competing solutions for all these efforts. It would behoove IBM to simply torpedo widely accepted HPC products and solutions, but the current situation certainly raises some interesting questions.
Original article found in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal print edition: Bulkeley, William M.”IBM’s Lawyers Scour Sun Micro’s Contracts.”