Java M&A: HP-BEA-Borland, etc.?

by Steve Anglin

According to SD Times' Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: "As you know by now, Hewlett-Packard has decided to get out of the middleware business. Specifically, say goodbye to Netaction Application Server, Netaction Web Services Platform and Web Services Registry. They’re toast." This in conjunction with HP's announced partnership with BEA in distributing BEA's WebLogic application server and possibly tools with HP-UX-based servers seems to pave the way for a possible HP acquisition of BEA Systems. If BEA's stock price per share drops low enough, HP may pull the trigger on such an acquisition. I think it's only a matter of time.

HP's server competition, Sun and IBM, already offer complete middleware and developer tools solutions for this server customers. With IBM, it's WebSphere, WebSphere Studio (a commercial version of Eclipse) and DB2. With Sun, it's the Sun ONE Web application server (formerly iPlanet and Netscape), Sun ONE Studio (formerly Forte for Java IDE), etc. Why not HP? Their discarded offerings including Bluestone just was not enought to make an impact in the marketplace to add real value to HP's offerings. But BEA's WebLogic certainly does, given that WebLogic is still number one in market share.

Also, BEA just announced a partnership with Borland for its JBuilder IDE to be bundled with WebLogic. Given this, HP has to be even more interested. I guess this means the BEA doesn't have much faith in Cajun or WebLogic Workshop to have enough market impact. However, the Java Web Services (JWS) tags specification as well as perhaps other features in Cajun may find their way into JBuilder. Time will tell.

In other news from around the league, speculation is that Palm is for sale. Certainly, Palm should consider a roll back into 3COM. Currently, Palm partners with IBM, according to ZDNet and Gartner. Palm may be talking to Apple as well. Remember the Newton? Well, Apple does. Anyway, Palm is probably on the block. What about Palm and Sun? Well, Sun is focused on Java 2ME for the cell phone with its strongly established partnerships with Motorola, Ericcson, etc. Sun also has the RIM Blackberry as a cell phone and PDA combo, which may be the long term replacement to the stand-alone PDA. Maybe, Palm and Qualcomm could talk about a partnership/merger. Anyway, time will tell on this as well.

Sun and Dell? Why not. HP and Compaq happened. Given Sun's server sales are troubling, look for Sun to aggressivly sell its Cobalt Linux servers. The only problem: access to a ripe market. Enter Dell. I guess we'll see.

During the remainder of this year, look for M&A mania in the Java/Java-related industry.

Please share your thoughts, speculation and more on the Java industry.