Blogger: Guy Creese
The tech world is currently agog at the thought that IBM may purchase Sun, with all kinds of prognostications on what will happen to Sun's servers and Java. The following is a prognostication on what will happen within the productivity suite space if IBM buys Sun.
Sun is currently involved in two productivity suites: OpenOffice.org and Sun StarOffice. OpenOffice.org is an open source project that Sun initially started and has been heavily involved with. However, Sun's involvement has apparently diminished recently. Sun StarOffice is a snapshot of OpenOffice.org that Sun sells and supports.
IBM offers Lotus Symphony, currently built on the OpenOffice.org 1.1.4 codebase, that uses the Eclipse Rich Client Platform from IBM Lotus Expeditor for its shell. The Eclipse underpinnings enable programmers to integrate Lotus Symphony with other applications, in much the same way that the Office Software Development Kit (SDK) lets programmers integrate Microsoft Office with other applications.
Given the fact that IBM has modified the OpenOffice.org code specifically so that it will work with other IBM applications (and Sun has not done the same for StarOffice), I predict that IBM will sunset StarOffice and continue Lotus Symphony (assuming the deal goes through). OpenOffice.org work will continue with support from IBM and others.
In the larger market, if StarOffice is shot, Microsoft Office will lose an open source competitor, with IBM and Novell still carrying the open source banner.