Sun offers to buy Tarantella. Will this impact our industry?

By now you’ve most likely heard that Sun will buy Tarantella. Let’s take a look at what this deal means for them and for Citrix and Microsoft.

By now you’ve most likely heard that Sun will buy Tarantella. Let’s take a look at what this deal means for them and for Citrix and Microsoft.

The Facts

Sun will buy Tarantella for 90 cents per share. (The current trading price was 83 cents per share although that went up to 86 cents on the news today.) That price makes the whole deal worth $25 million. The deal should close this fall.

Tarantella is a software company that has two products. One is called “Secure Global Desktop (SGD) Enterprise Edition” and the other is called “Secure Global Desktop, Terminal Server Edition (SGD-TSE).” Even though these two products have the same name, they are in fact different products that are not really related.

The SGD Enterprise product is the “traditional” 3-tier Tarantella product that provides Linux and Solaris applications in a browser / Java interface. We in the Citrix and Windows server-based computing community typically don’t care about this product.

The product we do care about, SGD-TSE, is what Tarantella got when they bought New Moon two years ago. (My first article ever was about this.) SGD-TSE is an add-on product to Terminal Server and it competes directly with Citrix’s Presentation Server.

So why does Sun want these products, and what does it mean for their future?

My first gut reaction is that the TSE version of SGD is dead. After all, why would Sun put any effort into a product whose sole purpose is to provide easier access to Microsoft applications?

As much as I’d like to see the TSE product spun off into its own company (New Moon 2 anyone?) I think the more likely scenario will be that Sun will keep it as a “line item” feature of the larger SGD product. (Actually this is the way it is now. Tarantella’s SGD Enterprise Edition also includes the TSE edition’s features.) I can’t imagine the stand-alone TSE product existing much longer since it’s just not a focus of Sun.

The only wild card here is that Sun has a bunch of little Sun Ray devices that they want to sell. Sun Rays are Sun’s overpriced (entry price: $370) thin client devices. If Sun offered a Microsoft-based server-based computing product then they would be able to advertise Microsoft Windows applications for the Sun Rays. While I think this will most likely be part of Sun's advertising campaign, I think it will be part of a broader SGD product without the Windows-only product option like what Tarantella offers today.

So who are the real winners in this deal? Sun gets a product that can help them provide access to Solaris applications from more client devices with a simple web interface. (Actually Sun is becoming more like Citrix in this regard except with a different back end application technology.) Tarantella gets another lease on life and can move beyond the fears that they'll run out of money. Citrix sees the competitor with the next-best technology eliminated from the competitive pool. Finally, smaller ISV's like Jetro and triCerat have some breathing room to pursue whatever it is they want to do.

So what do you think? Share your thoughts below.

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You can't spell some.
The traditional Tarantella three tier architecture is valuable to Sun. It runs on Solaris (X86 and Sparc) and Linux and is therefore a good layered product for the hardware that has often sat comfortably with the rest of the iPlanet/Java Enterprise System stack.

Presumably they'll inherit access to the licensed RDP protocol that Tarantella has. They can build and integrate a native RDP client onto both Sunray and Java Desktop System. This may be a pure RDP client, or possibly an enhanced RDP client to support the extra New Moon functionality.

Still - it's not obvious what might happen to the New Moon stuff but clearly the x86 architecture is more dominant now at sun than it has ever been and even Sun should know that Windows apps won't just disappear.
I like it - it _could_ be a real competitor.

But the support is not really good.

And they currently have 2 To-Do's on their list :

- Get SGD TSE 4 working with W2003 Server SP1
- Get SGD TSE 4 compiled and working on W2003 Server x64
- Remove some minor bugs

It's not so much work - please, Tarantella : Do this.

And Sun : Don't let SGD TSE die.

I think one of the biggest adoption obstacles for a “pure” Sun Ray system has always been no Windows apps. If they eliminate that obstacle . . .

However, it still doesn’t explain why – perhaps they should have sold their Sun Ray division off instead.

BTW, if you've never seen Sun's hot desking it is very cool (I don't know if any Citrix-backed thin clients implement it or not).
How is their to-do list different from Citrix's?
"Citrix sees the competitor with the next-best technology eliminated from the competitive pool."
I don't fully understand this statement.
Wouldn't Sun be the new stronger competitor to Citrix?
(And one with much deeper pockets?)
I am sure this is news that Citrix would not view as to being favorable.

Thanks for the commentary and your answer in advance.
While the pratical side of just better integrating is interesting (running apps from any OS seemlessly), I think that Tarantella has some interesting technology that would be more valuable removed from the current environment.
My two bits...

There are some interesting options as to what processing is done where in both client/server and thin-client. The X model is very different from the RDP/ICA model. Tarantella also has "things in the middle" as well. Were Sun to put in an effort to redifne themselves as anything-anywhere-anytime computing (OK, they'd have to get a new name for that) some of that technology could play a key role.

SGD Enterprise it's a real competitor of Citrix for big installation, if using that like a gateway for Windows application. SGD Enterprise best fit inside DMZ and it has strong scalability. Tarantella company had many problems for competing with Citrix about company credibility and Microsoft support (They don't like a Linux/Unix gateway in a pure Windows environment). Now, Citrix has not a small company like competitor but an important player of IT market.
I Agree with that ...
"I thnk"

Sun has a goal - the desktop. Their backend products are under siege from Linux and Microsoft so one way to cool the heat is to get more bums on seats on the front end for a win-win. Their Sun Ray products are their answer.
Sun Ray is good technology, but its not quite a complete package, as Citrix has broader deployment capability from PDA's, laptops PC's, WAN etc. So people use a Sun Ray / Citrix hybrid, with lots of Windows servers, and then wonder why they have the Sun Ray / Sun Servers.
I think this purchase will give them the ability to cut Citrix out of the equation, and ultimately shaft Microsoft by moving you to a Sun front end with no Windows servers. BTW does Password Manager 4.0's hotdesk do anything like Sun Ray hotdesk?

I believe that SUN won't kill TSE because he is a good product.

They put I believe that the great focus of SUN will be SGD EE that has been winning very big of Citrix customers for remote access and WAN because he implements a protocol called proprietor AIP that is as good as it ICA and now SUN will have more $$$$ to improve the product.

I also believe that when Tarantella Acquired to New Moon it was for him to be the server of Application of Tarantella Enterprise 3 and that should not have been happening for lack of money, and now possibly can happen.

Another thing that is very important reminds that SGD EE is so or safer than Citrix for external access and today the speech of the citrix is any device customer, connection and mobile access and SGE EE already made that with little money it imagines now with larger investment.

Were you drunk when you wrote your last post?
There are three main reasons that one company buys another company. They want to acquire the distribution channel and or the client list of the target company. They target company has under utilized technology or assets and/or those two items compliment the existing companies product line and the acquiring company does not have to grow the newly acquired assets in house which requires additional time and resources. And thirdly, acquire the talent pool. The talent pool is the company’s employees, staff and management. I have worked for companies that have used two out of the three strategies to effective grow multi billion USD businesses in the US.

On Tarantellas acquisition of New Moon, I attempted to call ALL of the New Moon resellers in the US to survey their thoughts about Tarantella acquiring New Moon. Unscientific answer was somewhere between not happy, do not care, and what is New Moon? However I did find a few resellers that were New Moon resellers and also had Siler, Gold and Platinum Citirx resellers’ status. The Citrix resellers’ responses paralleled those of the non Citrix New Moon resellers.

The second attempt to contact the combined Tarantella/New Moon reseller channel was Tarantellas announcement that New Moon would be distributed FREE with the purchase of two years maintenance. Not much of a reaction from the resellers because most had stopped actively selling the products. What was different there were a few SUN resellers now included from the Tarantella side of the acquisition. Most were NOT Microsoft partners and when I asked them about that company it was if I was speaking of the devil itself. Could SUN be looking for an under utilized distribution channel that has some Microsoft and Citrix awareness? Maybe.

Could Sun be looking at the components of the Tarantella/New Moon product line and combining it with what they have or have in the R&D backroom to create something new that would be competitive in the broader SBC market? This could be compared to your child playing with Lego’s. They see combinations that we do not. The child puts together this combination of blocks and holds it up for you to view. It could be a plane, bird, or modern art. But the child says “Teradaycty1!” To them it is self evident, and now I what a flying dinosaur looks like through someone else’s eyes.

A third reason for an acquisition is for the people. I look at the bios of Tarantellas management and do not see an over abundance of SBC knowledge. However, they taken a company from being de-listed off of its stock exchange, to .90 USD. I believe the upfront VC commitment was between 16-19 million USD and in about a one-year later they have turned it into 25 million USD. Maybe SUN has another fish to fry and needs an attach team.

Could it all or part of all three plus a little of this and a little that. In fact I will mix it up in the sink and see if it looks like India ink!
I thought the previous post was by you.
It is probably by a person not fully fluent in the english language.
When we looked at TSE a few months ago, we backed off and stayed with Citrix because of our concerns over the strength of the company not the product. Now that a stronger company owns the product it may be killed? Too bad if that is the case, because I think TSE with a good price point and a stong organization would give Citrix some real competition. That would be good for everyone...even Citrix

I think he's speculating that, since SGD-TSE gives people a reason to use Windows, Sun will probably let the product fade away - taking it out of competition with Citrix.

Having worked with and written about SGD before (and Canaveral before that), I'd be sad to see that happen. I think it is a pretty well-rounded product that fills a decent-sized gap between Citrix and TS. Microsoft is narrowing that gap as we speak, so it was only a matter of time anyway, but it does appear that Sun could accelerate SGD's departure from the arena.
All of the material from Sun has focused on the SGD Enterprise product, not the SGD TSE product. That makes me wonder whether Sun will keep pushing the TSE version.

TSE's price point couldn't get a whole lot better, but you're right - it wasn't enough to get my company to use SGD either.

I'm hoping Sun keeps SGD-TSE around...
Dear Brian,
As a leading SbC reseller, I see some major benefits to SUN's acquistion.
First : there is huge demand awaiting in the Linux world for a Server-based computing solution. SUN should drop the TS edition and focus on partnering with Redhat and SUSE. Citrix will never bother with this space since they have a very strong relationship with Microsoft.

Second : SUN needs to get on the SbC bandwagon and support a complete architecture and not just their own hardware and software.

Omar Kazi (

yes CitriX's smooth roaming is very simular to Suns Hotdesk top

Bla bla blah about Sun buy Tarentella. Shity company + company = double the ***

Sun has been trying to sell thier Sunrays for years with no luck...This will only help the Citrix MS/HP/IBM relationships

I dont think MS is eager to give up any desktop marketshare to Sun or any other linux/Unix vendor..

Ya, I was kinda asuming Sun would back off the "free" price point in my response:) I'm with you on hoping Sun keeps SGD around. It may be to late for us in this go round but it could benefit this sector in the long run.
Yes, but this still does provide at least potential Citrix competition. Sun shops that may be considering moving to Window/Citrix if they need TS type functionality may now have that functionality available. So this could affect the number of new Citrix customers. I don't know how big this market may be, but this and the Sun Ray can potentially make Sun a distributed computing player. It does give the Sun die-hards one more reason to stay with their system.

As far as the Sun Ray being overpriced - Sun people are used to paying too much for hardware. So that may not be a big factor.
How will this impact the TSE product?