Lost in all the bustle of a news-rich early September was the word that Progress Software closed the deal to acquire IONA Technologies plc.
Progress acquired IONA for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $162 million and approximately $107 million net of cash and marketable securities reported on June 30, 2008, which it funded with existing cash resources.
IONA was always among the more interesting companies in the software firmament. It originally came out of computer science academic efforts in Ireland, and was one of the earliest companies to focus on distributed computing. It was one of a handful of upstarts looking to ride the CORBA ORB standard to market. Its star was Orbix.
One of its big early successes was one of technology’ biggest all-time failures. But IONA leveraged what it learned as part of Motorola Iridium Satellite communication effort. [Wikipedia tells us that the satellites and other assets and technology behind Iridium were thought to have cost on the order of $6 billion – but that the bankrupt firm later sold for a mere $25 million.]
Getting to market with an ORB was just step-one for IONA. The company rolled with the Web services and SOA trends; it managed to stay in the game after other independent ORB makers were forgotten, adjusting as market demand changed. It is possible to project that IONA will become an enduring franchise as it comes under the Progress umbrella. Before it is too late, can anyone tell us what ‘IONA’ means?