Sun to Focus on Identity-Based Middleware

Software head Rich Green is touting identity-based middleware solutions, but the OpenSolaris project and the open-sourcing of Java are still top priorities for Sun.

Rich Green, the executive vice president of software at Sun Microsystems, is a very busy man these days.

Green, who returned to the Santa Clara, Calif., company in May after software head John Loiacono resigned to take an executive position at Adobe Systems, is not only overseeing the complex process of open-sourcing the companys Java technology, but is also putting a greater focus on identity-based middleware solutions.

At the same time, Green continues to push key initiatives like the OpenSolaris project which, over the past year, has attracted a large developer community and which has seen some 5 million code downloads.

"You will see a redoubling of that effort and we will move to accelerate that even further," Green said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about what John Loiacono had to say in his farewell blog.

"I think you will also see a greater focus on identity-based middleware solutions, which are important in this world of identity theft, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and homeland security regulations," Green said.

"I think we offer a set of services and capabilities when integrated from Solaris through the middleware, that no one else can do. You will see more richness there," he added.

With regard to the open-sourcing of Java, Green said the process was "moving along nicely. Our intent is, as initially stated at JavaOne, that we fully plan to do it, but we want to make sure we do the right thing for the community and the technology. Theres a lot to analyze here."

The process involved taking note of the dynamics of the community, the participants, the JCP, and other community programs, forces and licensees so Sun could make sure it was doing the right thing by all of them.

/zimages/6/28571.gifA Sun executive recently warned that open-sourcing Java could create an incompatibility risk. Click here to read more.

"This is not trivial and there is as much emotion as there are business and legal issues here. We want to make sure that we are doing the right thing and doing it cleanly; its just work, Green said, adding that Sun is trying to ensure that all of the many parties involved had their best interests supported.

"As we move to open source, it is interesting as there are so many people involved, and yet we are accused of not involving enough people," he said.

"Part of the delay is because we have involved so many for so long that we have to work through it all. The delay is simply a function of how open we have been," he said.

Green is also upbeat about the changes he sees inside Sun, a company he left in March 2004 to join Cassatt, a startup focused on enterprise infrastructure software.

Green said that Sun is now far more aggressive in its decision-making policies and the companys ability to think creative thoughts and act on them promptly is "quite wonderful and even better than I thought it would be, which was one of the reasons I came back."

He also said there is a far more balanced view inside the company about being a software and systems and service and storage company, with a far more progressive view about its technologies and product portfolio.

"You will see increasing evidence of that very quickly. You will see products announced in the next month or so that will begin to affect the direction of how storage is done in the universe. That is quite remarkable," Green said.

He also defended some controversial comments reportedly made by Suns chief open-source officer, Simon Phipps, at the Open Source Business Conference in London on June 28, where he reportedly said that for open source to prosper, people needed to stop thinking of it as free, but rather as connected capitalism.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about what JBoss Marc Fleury has said about his companys version of "professional open source."

Phipps also argued for the notion of self-interest, saying the future lie in cooperation and in organizations preserving what was ultimately of value to them.

"When you look across the industry, all of these things are true. There is plenty of evidence of self-interest. Just look at Red Hat or the proclamations from JBoss Marc Fleury that open source is a business model that he uses. He built and sold a company around that," Green said.

The problem, he said, is that the term "self-interest" sounded incriminating.

"So, does Sun support the community dynamics and values and interests? Of course it does, and for more than 20 years we have behaved in a way that underscores our devotion to the community aspect of open source.

"But on the other hand, we are a business, and I believe we can be both. Our actions speak for themselves," Green said.

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