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It’s official: IONA is part of Progress

Lost in all the bustle of a news-rich early September was the word that Progress Software closed the deal to acquire IONA Technologies plc.

Some details..

Progress acquired IONA for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $162 million and approximately $107 million net of cash and marketable securities reported on June 30, 2008, which it funded with existing cash resources.

IONA was always among the more interesting companies in the software firmament. It originally came out of computer science academic efforts in Ireland, and was one of the earliest companies to focus on distributed computing. It was one of a handful of upstarts looking to ride the CORBA ORB standard to market. Its star was Orbix.

One of its big early successes was one of technology’ biggest all-time failures. But IONA leveraged what it learned as part of Motorola Iridium Satellite communication effort. [Wikipedia tells us that the satellites and other assets and technology behind Iridium were thought to have cost on the order of $6 billion – but that the bankrupt firm later sold for a mere $25 million.]

Getting to market with an ORB was just step-one for IONA. The company rolled with the Web services and SOA trends; it managed to stay in the game after other independent ORB makers were forgotten, adjusting as market demand changed. It is possible to project that IONA will become an enduring franchise as it comes under the Progress umbrella. Before it is too late, can anyone tell us what ‘IONA’ means?

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Don't know if it is already too late, but here is the real story, straight from the founders of IONA (all really good guys): they had two distinct things in mind when naming the company: (1) "IONA" is an island* off the coast of Scotland (off the western most tip of the Isle of Mull) where the Book of Kells ( was hidden by monks during the dark ages and then sprung forth as the source of enlightenment (as the company was expected to do) (2) they figured IONA Technologies might get abbreviated as "IT" which they thought would be quite fitting. *Bonus trivia: in the early days of the company, many conference rooms were named after other Irish islands...