Applications

Sun Appoints New Software Boss

A slew of new senior appointments at Sun Microsystems comes as confidence in the recovery of the U.S. economy and technology industry is growing. Santa Clara, California-based Sun last week named Jonathan Schwartz as its new chief operating officer, and on Monday announced that John Loiacono has been appointed as the new executive vice president of software, perhaps as the final stage of a restructuring effort there.

“John will lead the software organization,” said Schwartz, noting that the appointment is intended to “take Sun’s software to the next level, building on our most recent successes … while creating new opportunities and innovations in the marketplace.”

Loiacono will oversee all of Sun’s software business, which includes its Solaris version of the Unix operating system; the Java Enterprise System, consisting of business applications and middleware; the Java Desktop System, which Sun is seeking to establish as an alternative to Microsoft’s Windows; the StarOffice productivity software; and N1 computing efforts.

New Innovations

Although Sun has been plagued by 10 consecutive quarters of poor sales performance, the economy has been growing, especially during the last two quarters. Schwartz noted that there has been “dramatic growth and acceptance” of the Java platform as well as of the company’s Solaris operating system and Java Enterprise System.

The company linked the appointments of Schwartz and Loiacono to its move — announced last week with much publicity — to work in partnership with Microsoft.

“We will build on our new collaboration with Microsoft, and [on our] plans to provide the most Microsoft-interoperable software available, while continuing to focus on delivering end-to-end network solutions from the data center and desktop environments to mobile devices and smart cards,” said Loiacono.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently noted that a “mini-bubble” has emerged in the technology economy, largely because wireless applications are burgeoning, fueling demand for software, services and new computing platforms.

Tech Economy Rebounding

This news follows several government and private-sector reports that the economy is on the rebound from the first recession of the 21st century.

A report issued Monday by the Conference Board, based in New York City, said confidence about future growth in the economy is at its highest point in 20 years among executives. Demand is rising for new technologies, and companies are plotting to meet the call.

“We may have turned the corner,” said Lynn Franco, director of the consumer research center at the Conference Board. High-profile promotions like Sun’s selection of Loiacono are sure to bolster the optimistic spirit of market analysts.

Loiacono was previously in a strategic management position at Sun — one focused on the future direction of the Solaris and Linux platforms, and on the future of the Java Enterprise System.

Shattering Conventional Wisdom

Additionally, Sun’s moves could indicate that a renewed focus on technological innovation — not just mere survival — is at the forefront of corporate executives’ minds.

“Sun’s disruptive actions are shattering the conventional wisdom within the software industry,” said Loiacono.

The division Loiacono now heads is working on the company’s network-computing strategy — largely unrealized in terms of the grand vision once outlined by cantankerous CEO Scott McNealy.

Sun has lost ground in servers, one of its traditional niches, to IBM and Hewlett-Packard, and this loss has helped push the firm toward embracing the innovation model of success once again as it trims its workforce and concentrates on its technical strengths.

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