Today, database giant Oracle unexpectedly announced that it would purchase ailing UNIX vendor Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion. The purchase, which Sun has agreed to, comes in the wake of IBM's aborted attempts to buy Sun and rumors that the two companies were talking again.

"Oracle and Sun have been industry pioneers and close partners for more than 20 years," said Sun Chairman Scott McNealy. "This combination is a natural evolution of our relationship and will be an industry-defining event."

"The acquisition of Sun transforms the IT industry, combining best-in-class enterprise software and mission-critical computing systems," said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. "Oracle will be the only company that can engineer an integrated system, applications to disk, where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves. Our customers benefit as their systems integration costs go down while system performance, reliability, and security go up."

Oracle's offer for Sun amounts to about $9.50 per share, about 10 cents higher than IBM's final bid. The offer represents a 42 percent premium over Sun's closing price of $6.69 on Friday. After factoring in Sun's cash and debt, the companies say the deal is worth about $5.6 billion overall.