It wasn't meant to happen like this. Cisco's data centre announcement should have paved the way to rumours about networking and server companies merging.

Instead we have to deal with the fact that Sun might not be with us for much longer. It doesn't that long ago that Sun was the darling of the techie world, a (relatively) new upstart, taking on the more staid big boys. That seems all in the past now as the Wall Strret Journal reports that IBM, the most corporate of all its competitors is in the frame to snap up the the ailing server vendor.

This is not totally out of the (Big) blue. Sun has reportedly been hawking itself around the market for some time, desperate to find a buyer to drag it out of its slump. When cash-rich IBM appeared on the scene, waving its readies, Sun must have felt like the near-banckrupt Chelsea did when Roman Abramovich appeared on the hoizon.

What's more mystifying is what IBM gets out of the deal. Sure it gets a big chunk of data centre market share - but probably not enough to merit anti-trust attention - but it also has to cope with supporting Solaris, an additional platform, for its pains. IBM has also been promoting its software, services and consultancy arms just lately and slowly divesting itself of its hardware products but that process has been halted.

The company will now also be faced with supporting two database systems: IBM's own DB2 and Sun's MySQL and also have to work out what to do with the Sun software that has been slowly moved to the open source world, something that IBM has some experience with but only when it doesn't impinge on its proprietary software business. The two companies also have competing cloud computing strategies - although Sun's is changing -  that would need to be merged - I'm sure it's all going to get messy.

At the moment, both companies are remaining tight-lipped about the talks, the possible ramifications and future plans, so all we can do is speculate.

One thing's for sure; such talk has laid bare Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz's talk that everything in the garden is rosy and thet Sun's future is bright. Nor does his plans of appealing to developers and techies appear to have been fruitful. Sun might have a lot of goodwill (still) among the techie community but they're not the ones with the cash - the future belongs to the suits.