Just two weeks after IBM broke off talks to buy Sun Microsystems at $9.40 a share, Oracle, in a surprise move, announced it has reached a deal to buy the troubled firm for a mere extra dime. The $7.4 billion, or $9.50 per share, deal represents a premium of 42 percent over the closing price of Sun in the market Friday and, according to the companies, will ensure the continued development of two key Sun software assets: Java and Solaris.

It also thrusts Oracle into the hardware business. Sun's directors have unanimously approved the takeover, which should close in the summer, and is unlikely to encounter the kind of anti-trust scrutiny a deal with IBM would surely have met due to their overlapping server businesses - the two combined would have controlled 65 percent of the high-end Unix server market.

The move also gives Oracle control of MySQL, which Sun acquired last year for $1 billion and promised to keep completely open. It remains to be seen what Oracle has in store for the popular open source database, though one would think that improving a product that could compete with its flagship is not their top priority right now.