Business software giant Oracle announced plans to acquire Sun Microsystems in a deal valued at $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun’s cash and debt.

Oracle originally specialized in database management software, but acquisitions over recent years – including PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems, BEA Systems, Hyperion, etc. – have expanded its portfolio. Sun provides both software and hardware (server) technologies.

In the formal announcement, Oracle stressed software: "There are substantial long-term strategic customer advantages to Oracle owning two key Sun software assets: Java and Solaris."

Both software platforms are known within the cable industry. CableLabs adopted Java as the execution engine for the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) in 2002. Many cable headends have run on Solaris, although that number appears to have dropped in recent years.

Four years ago, headends at one major U.S.-based MSO used to be 80 percent Solaris, 10 percent IBM/Intel, estimated one corporate engineer reached for comment. But as IBM shifted to Linux, those numbers have now reversed.

IBM recently had been in talks to acquire Sun. Those talks reportedly broke up in early April, possibly over regulatory concerns. The Sun board of directors anticipates closing the Oracle acquisition some time this summer.

"This is huge," said the engineer reached for comment. "In my opinion, the perfect marriage between OS (operating systems) and database."

– Jonathan Tombes

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