Sun Chief on Making Peace

Face to face: Jonathan Schwartz.

On April 2, the day Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. announced technical and legal agreements, Sun also promoted Executive Vice President of Software Jonathan Schwartz to president and chief operating officer of the Santa Clara, Calif., company. Schwartz spoke that day to eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli about the agreements and his strategy in his new role.

Do you see Suns software focus changing in this new alignment?

No. Were now flying in formation, and the opportunities for our software business, emboldened by our announcements with Microsoft, are huge. Getting $2 billion doesnt hurt.

Was putting the legal and other issues behind you essential for Suns goals?

I dont think litigation is much of a value-add for our customers. Its certainly not a value-add for our innovators. This settlement and agreements helps—and I think it will be a big accelerant for work in the Linux community. We get patent amnesty in the deal, and its nice knowing that they are not going to sue us for shipping our Desktop. And it must be nice for them to know that we are not going to sue them for the CLR [Common Language Runtime].

Was the decision to try to reach an agreement with Microsoft driven by your customers?

You have to look at this both in terms of what customers want as well as the industry setting and context: Sun and Microsoft are going to collaborate now. This is a victory for the open standards that Sun espouses and the de facto standards that Microsoft drives. It puts into question the proprietary extensions that Red Hat [Inc.] is driving and the tactics that IBM has been trying to drive, and this move now puts [IBM and Red Hat] one step behind us.

Are you concerned about the Linux and open-source communitys reaction?

We are in the Java camp first and foremost, and that is a camp that says we are all going to work together in an open community and try to progress the industry. Secondly, we are the largest driver of Linux unit volume in the marketplace because we deliver a desktop and we are doing more ... to drive an alternative to the Microsoft environment. We are doing more to help the Linux community than anyone else I know. I think there is a great deal of animosity against Microsoft. A lot of folks in the Linux community need to focus instead on driving creative value propositions that encourage the adoption of an alternative rather than the hatred of Windows and Microsoft.

Will Sun sell Windows on its servers?

Thats about as likely as Steve [Ballmer, Microsoft CEO] and Scott [McNealy, Sun CEO] getting married. I do not believe we have any more appetite or interest in selling Microsoft technologies than they have to sell Solaris.

What do you see as your first goal in your new role as COO and president?

I learned a lot from [former Sun President] Ed Zander and watching him with Scott. I share exactly the same vision and strategy as Scott. I could not be doing this job unless we had the same objectives, and that vision is that the "network is the computer."