A Caring Executive

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-01-17 Print this article Print

Schwartz was considered by many of his professional colleagues at Sun as a caring and personable manager. High-ranking execs are required to have a layer of steel when it comes to personnel decisions, and Schwartz, naturally, had to deploy that layer on occasion.

"There were a few high-ranking Sun execs who didn't give a hoot about anything but themselves," recalled Russ Castronovo, a former Sun media relations officer who's now at Plantronics. "Jonathan was not one of them. I found him very enjoyable to work with." Other Sun colleagues echoed Castronovo's comments.

Inadvertent Impression?

To outsiders, however, the low-key Schwartz can give the inadvertent impression of being an "I know more than you" type of guy.

"Like more than a few executives, JS is a bit full of himself," said enterprise IT analyst Charles King. "Then again," he added laughingly, "if self-conceit were a capital crime, the old -Sun Quentin' office in Menlo Park  [Sun's locally famous sequestered former headquarters, now Facebook's home] could be repurposed as a federal prison and filled to overflowing with former Silicon Valley execs.

"But if you look at Schwartz's tenure at Sun, it doesn't require a great stretch of imagination to see his better qualities shining through. Schwartz fully understood the underlying value of Sun's software stack and its importance for differentiating the company's hardware solutions, and he began moving Sun in that direction at about the same time heavyweights like IBM and EMC were following similar paths.

"He also fully got the market's tectonic shift toward x86 [Intel processors] and what that would eventually mean to a proprietary box maker like Sun-something Scott McNealy and [Oracle CEO] Larry Ellison still appear not to have grasped," King added.

Schwartz's focus on open source and moving Solaris toward that model made him a figure of some ridicule-especially to people at Oracle-but one could argue that the effort simply may have been too little, too late, according to King.

"Finally, his search for a buyer for Sun [an act that incensed McNealy and numerous longtime employees] was, in retrospect, the best outcome the company could have hoped for," King said.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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