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.
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.