Gingells Departure Shakes Up Sun

The departure of Sun's chief engineer to a startup not only leaves Sun without a well-respected visionary, but the departure could also impact the company's proclivity to open-source the Java platform.

The departure of Sun Microsystems Inc.s chief engineer to a startup not only leaves Sun without a well-respected visionary, but the departure could also impact the companys proclivity to open-source the Java platform.

Rob Gingell, Suns chief engineer and a Sun fellow and vice president, this month severed ties with Sun to join two former colleagues at Cassatt Corp. as chief technology officer. Cassatt specializes in enterprise infrastructure software and services that help enterprises scale out commodity hardware through clustering, grids and virtualization.

Gingell will join former Sun colleagues Bill Coleman, founder and CEO of Cassatt, in San Jose, Calif., and Rich Green, Suns former vice president of developer software, who left Sun in April to become Cassatts executive vice president of product development. Green was expected to succeed Jonathan Schwartz as overall head of software at Sun when Schwartz was promoted to president and chief operating officer.

Sun officials did not provide an official comment on Gingells departure.

However, a source close to the situation said Gingell will be sorely missed at Sun, where he was often the sounding board for new projects. A yea or nay from him could weigh heavily in whether efforts got funding and support. The source said Gingell preferred to leave without fanfare.

During his tenure at Sun, Gingell headed the JCP (Java Community Process), which helped shepherd Java into a mature platform used and supported by thousands of industries.

Gingells departure may have the most impact on the possibility of further discussions regarding open-sourcing the Java platform. It was Gingell whom IBM approached with the notion earlier this year.

Gingell also was instrumental in working out a harmonious relationship between Sun and open-source organizations and leaders. Gingell helped smooth a relationship between Sun, the JCP and The Apache Software Foundation and made way for simpler licensing terms for open-source users.

"I think Robs departure from Sun indicates that things must be getting very bad at Sun," said Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst with Burton Group Inc., of Midvale, Utah, and a former executive at Sun. "His departure surprised me almost as much as Bill Joys did. But perhaps it just indicates that hes tired of being at loggerheads with Jonathan Schwartz, and the opportunity to work with Bill Coleman and Rich Green must have been very tempting for him."


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