SAN FRANCISCO - Sun Microsystems Inc. created waves in the middleware market Tuesday at the JavaOne conference, announcing it plans to acquire integration vendor SeeBeyond Technology Corp. for $387 million.
The deal, which must be ratified by shareholders, provides a glue for Sun's increasingly disparate open source and custom middleware offerings.
"Honestly, this was not a stunt acquisition," said Sun CEO Scott McNealy during his morning keynote speech at the conference. "We have a little bit of a hole in integration in our middleware stack and this addresses that."
At a press conference after the keynote, McNealy elaborated on the deal, acknowledging that while Sun often prides itself in figuring out where technology is headed, it's never been adept at migrating customers from where they are at to where they're going.
"We got hit on the head with a 2x4 enough times that we're finally starting to listen," he said. He added that SeeBeyond's ability to merge legacy systems into new architecture would hopefully create "a stepping stone" to Java architecture adoption.
"This way you don't have to start from scratch," McNealy said.
Sun President Jonathan Schwartz revealed that SeeBeyond "will become the service-oriented architecture sales force for the company." Also, according to executives from both companies, the merger of SeeBeyond into the Sun product stack should be fairly quick and painless given that it's built on a Java platform.
On Monday, Sun announced that it has created an open source Web services integration group built around the newly-coined Java Business Integration standard. Schwartz believes it will create the architectural foundation for the building of integration environments with the fee-based SeeBeyond suite.
SeeBeyond CEO Jim Demetriades insisted the open source and enterprise software initiatives would dovetail rather than compete, pointing out that no amount of open standards will replace the need for custom work.
"I've never seen two integration efforts that were exactly the same," he said.
He envisions open source as a way for "all code to be orchestrated to work together instead of having these turf wars."
Overall, Sun's middleware vision is focused around being able to plug in anywhere customers need it, proving itself in the SOA universe one step at a time.
"Some want it integrated, some want it integratable," McNealy said, though he acknowledged that somewhere down the road Sun probably will offer an end-to-end middleware suite for those who want one-stop shopping.
IDC analyst David Senf called the SeeBeyond acquisition "a natural progression" for Sun.
"It allows them to complete their message from a software perspective," he said. "Now you can start to see how it all fits together."
In addition to its integration tools, SeeBeyond also brings data transformation, business process management and workflow capabilities to the Sun stack of offerings.