Sun Buys Last Bit of Old SCO

UPDATED: Sun Microsystems said it plans on buying Santa Cruz,
Calif.-based Tarantella to extend its platform reach.

John Loiacono, Sun executive vice president, said Sun would use the
technology for its thin client and mobile strategy by building a
bridge to legacy content, such as Microsoft Windows.

“We’ve been in the thin client space for a while with our Sun Ray
line, and the two big hindrances have been network bandwidth and
application interoperability,” Loiacono said during a conference call with press and analysts. “In
November, you may remember that we announced that Sun Ray devices are
now broadband capable. Now we are looking to use Tarantella to get
access to non-Sun applications, specifically Windows.”

Sun said Tarantella has the capability to connect clients to Windows
or non-Windows applications from a single management perspective. The
remote desktop technology also boasts operations-focused facilities, such
as provisioning, management, load balancing and reporting.

While access to non-Sun content would still depend on a Windows or
mainframe program running in the background, Loiacono said Tarantella
has a non-client-side technology that doesn’t interfere with the device,
granted that it runs some type of Java Runtime interface.

The $25 million cash- and stock-option deal still needs to be cleared
by shareholders and federal regulators. Sun and Tarantella said they are
confident the paperwork will be complete by the first quarter of Sun’s
fiscal year 2006, which ends in September.

Tarantella has three focus areas under its Secure Global Desktop
product family: Enterprise, Software Appliance and Terminal. The
products compete with rival offerings from Attachmate, Citrix Systems
and Hummingbird. However, Tarantella said it has a strong strategic
advantage in partners, such as IBM, Sun, Microsoft, HP, Nortel and
iCanSP, a wholly owned subsidiary of Computer Associates.

“I’m a bit surprised that it’s not IBM buying Tarantella instead of
Sun, given Tarantella’s closeness to IBM during the past few months,”
Michael Dortch, an analyst with IT research firm Robert Frances Group,
told internetnews.com. “However, it may be that the
Sun-Tarantella tie-up will prove to be more interesting, given Sun’s
continuing to promise interesting things from its evolving ditente with
Microsoft.”

Tarantella’s core software can run on x86 systems running Sun Solaris
or Linux (SUSE, Red Hat or Fedora). Secure Global Desktop software can
also run on UltraSPARC running Solaris.

The company’s application access software can also run on Microsoft
Windows, Linux, Unix, mainframe or midrange systems. Tarantella said its
software could even be extended to wireless devices such as handhelds
and cellular phones.

The Tarantella announcement comes one day after Sun said it would purchase Procom Technology for $50 million in cash.

Tarantella is the last piece of the company formerly known as The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO). The company changed its name when it sold its OpenServer software and professional services
divisions to Caldera International, which has since changed its name to
The SCO Group .

The History of Tarantella
2003 Acquires New Moon Systems
2001 Company changes name to Tarantella
2001 Sale of operating system divisions to Caldera Systems
2001 Tarantella Enterprise 3 released
1998 Launch of UnixWare7 product
1997 Launch of the Tarantella product
1995 Acquire Unix technology from Novell
1994 Acquire Visionware for client emulation technology
1993 Company goes public on Nasdaq
Source: Tarantella

Doug Michaels, who co-founded SCO, has remained a Tarantella board member.

Joshua Greenbaum, a market research analyst with Enterprise
Applications Consulting, says there is a certain irony in the fact that
Sun and SCO used to do battle in the 80s over which company had the
better desktop Unix product.

“Now we are here 20 years later, and Sun is acquiring the last bit of
the original SCO,” he said.

For Sun, an addition like Tarantella could help the company improve
on its promise to help data center operators control their patchwork of
rival servers and systems. The company made a point of mentioning in its
announcement that Tarantella is great at letting organizations “access
and manage information, data and applications across virtually all
platforms, networks and devices.”

But not everyone is convinced that Sun is making a good investment.
Greenbaum points out that Tarantella software may add security, access
and heterogeneity, but adding it to Sun may not change Sun’s fortunes.

“My concern is that Sun’s master plan isn’t very masterful,”
Greenbaum told internetnews.com. “What Sun keeps doing is
dredging the harbor deeper and deeper and filling out the edges without
addressing what they have. Tarantella is a good technology base for
non-Sun hardware, and that can be advantageous. “But I look around and ask
if that will change the competitive landscape. The answer is, no. This
is a more mundane announcement. It is like General Motors saying you can
now buy rain and snow tires along with your standard tires.”

In comparison, Greenbaum points out that IBM’s plans to acquire Apache Geronimo-based Gluecode is a much more logical
decision.

“I personally have trouble seeing the strategic value of Tarantella
to Sun,” he said.

Gary Hein, a vice president and analyst with Burton Group, told
internetnews.com he also had his doubts about Sun’s acquisition
plans.

I think I’d view this more as an exit strategy for the Tarantella
technologies, engineers and customers. Sun will acquire IP and product
around the operations side of deploying and managing remote
applications, and this will complement their Java Desktop System.
JDS could benefit from enhanced connectivity to non-JDS-capable
applications.

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