Katherine Egbert has predicted (again) that Red Hat will be bought, this time by IBM. While I have indulged my own Red Hat acquisition fantasies in the past, I just can't see a near-term acquisition of Red Hat by IBM.
Unless, as Egbert predicts, Oracle will throw its weight fully behind Sun's Solaris, to the detriment of its Linux business:
It seems inevitable Oracle will favor Solaris. While Oracle has said publicly they will continue support of RHEL, there is a sense within Red Hat that an increased focus on Open Solaris over RHEL is inevitable, as Oracle seeks to protect the declining Solaris maintenance stream. We estimate that 1/3 of Red Hat's new business comes from Unix-to-Linux migrations. The danger to Red Hat is that Oracle will offer customers attractive terms terms to stay on Solaris, potentially even paying them not to migrate.
Maybe. It's no secret that Oracle has been trying to undermine its dependence on Red Hat while satisfying its customers' preference for Linux. But this is the very reason that I can't see even Oracle, with all its market power, being able to stem the tide toward Linux and away from Unix.
Indeed, I can't even see why Oracle would bother. There's so much more money in its applications and databases. Why bother with trying to push Solaris boulders uphill when its primary concern should be ensuring prospective customers choose its applications and databases over IBM's and Microsoft's, a choice that is made easier by Linux and harder with Solaris?
Regardless, I don't see IBM buying Red Hat unless pushed to do so: Oracle promoting Solaris over Linux is unlikely to be that "push." Regardless, I personally think Cisco is the more likely suitor for Red Hat than either IBM or Oracle.
All of which means Red Hat remains an intriguing acquisition target for several big companies, due to its exceptional performance through the downturn, but it's unlikely to go to IBM soon.
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