Rob Gingell, until recently Sun Microsystems Inc.s chief engineer and also a Sun fellow and vice president of the company, has severed his ties with Sun to join former colleagues at an up-and-coming technology company.
Gingell, a 20-year Sun veteran who has been one of the companys most respected software minds, will be going to Cassatt Corp., a San Jose, Calif., enterprise infrastructure software and services company focusing on helping enterprises scale out their commodity hardware systems by implementing clustering, grid-like features and virtualization to make a large number of servers work as a single, manageable system.
Gingell will join two former Sun colleagues at Cassatt: Bill Coleman, who founded and is CEO of Cassatt; and Rich Green, Suns former Java honcho and vice president of developer software, who left Sun last April to move over to Cassatt as 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. But Gingell gave up an even more prestigious role at Sun to go to Cassatt, where he is listed as executive vice president and chief technology officer on the companys Web site.
A source close to the situation said Gingell will be sorely missed at Sun, where he was often the sounding board for new projects and that a yay or nay from Gingell could weigh heavily into whether efforts got funding and support. The source said Gingell preferred to leave without fanfare.
A sun spokesperson said Gingells last day at Sun was Nov. 5.
That Gingell quietly left Sun is no surprise, given that he is perhaps the most visionary Sun executive to have left the company since co-founder Bill Joy left the Santa Clara, Calif., systems maker last year.
During his tenure at Sun, among his many roles, Gingell headed up the Java Community Process (JCP), which has helped shepherd Java into a mature platform used and supported by thousands of industries.
Cassatt would not provide immediate comment for this story. A blurb on the Sun Web site describing Gingell said: “At Sun, Rob created dynamic linking mechanisms now prevalent in UNIX implementations, worked on the ELF object file format, and led operating systems development in the areas of memory management and multithreading. These efforts led to efforts in the definition and deployment of Application Binary Interface (ABI) technologies that include the current technology underlying Suns Solaris application guarantee programs. Subsequent assignments have included a variety of roles in system software, most recently as Chief Technologist for Suns systems software portfolio, including Solaris, Java, Jini, developer tools, and the StarOffice products and related technologies.”
A source close to the situation said Gingell informed them of his decision to leave Sun just a few weeks ago.
Perhaps Gingells departure from Sun will be most evident in any further discussion regarding open-sourcing the Java platform, for it was Gingell whom IBM approached with the notion earlier this year.
Rod Smith, IBMs vice president of emerging technology and an IBM fellow, wrote a letter to Gingell in February asking if Sun would like to join IBM in building an open-source implementation of Java. Though Gingell sounded out the notion and even participated in a panel debate on the subject at this years JavaOne conference, the issue seemed somewhat moot as Sun CEO Scott McNealy never seemed very keen on the idea.
Gingell also was instrumental in working out a harmonious relationship between Sun and open-source organizations and leaders. He helped smooth out a relationship between Sun, the JCP and the Apache Foundation, and made way for simpler licensing terms for open-source users.
Meanwhile, sources said Cassatt is indeed an up-and-coming company with lots of promise and hot technology.
“Bill doesnt put together any bad teams,” said one source close to the situation who asked not to be identified, who was referring to Bill Coleman. “You see what he did with BEA.”
Coleman founded BEA with current BEA CEO Alfred Chuang and Ed Scott. Bill, Ed and Alfred formed the name of the company: BEA Systems Inc.
An entry on the company Web site partly describes the Cassatt strategy: “Over the next couple of years this market will see the convergence of commodity-based grid computing with a service-oriented architecture for delivering applications. While this convergence offers the promise of great business benefits, this new approach to computing will require enterprises to evolve their IT infrastructure. Cassatt will provide software and services to help transform current IT infrastructures to take advantage of this new generation of enterprise computing.”