Schwartz on the Deal: Suns No. 2 Speaks

As Sun and Microsoft take over the lead roles as technology's odd couple, Sun's new No. 2, Jonathan Schwartz, tells eWEEK's Steve Gillmor how the partnership will drive innovation and interoperability.

In the wake of Sun and Microsofts stunning settlement, Sun also announced the elevation of software chief Jonathan Schwartz to president and chief operating officer. In a conversation with eWEEKs Steve Gillmor, Schwartz talked about where the two companies are looking to collaborate.

Whats the deal as to Microsofts Java Virtual Machine (JVM)? Is it going to be made more compatible with your JVM?

We have more than 60 percent of the PC industry signed up to ship our Java Virtual Machine. What were now downloading more than 7 million copies a month of, and what the PC OEMs are shipping in the tens of millions, will be the definition of the Java runtime environment.

Microsoft will have the ability to continue carrying what they provide, but its obviously an end-of-life platform in their regard. Were going to continue mining that innovation and driving the business opportunities that surround that amount of volume for developers.

There are no plans to work with Microsoft in terms of interoperability between the two JVMs?

Thats not contemplated in the current agreement.

When [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer talks about creativity, where does some of this creativity take place in this deal?

Obviously, were going to continue driving our message out to the marketplace. Were going to continue interoperating with the Microsoft servers that are behind those desktops. Simultaneously, Microsoft wants to be able to have their clients interoperate with our servers. And at the end of the day, in a Web services world, servers also need to talk to servers. So, the focal points in the near term are going to be around network identity and having our directory engines talking to one another.

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Are you going to be using some sort of unifying protocol like LDAP for that conversation?

Its still TBD on that, but were certainly going to have our identity teams talking to one another about how we can advantage one anothers platforms in the marketplace. This really defines Solaris and Windows as being uniquely interoperable on volume servers, and we obviously have a close relationship with the Linux community. And were going to continue driving that innovation and interoperability out into the Linux world as well.

Ive seen some writers suggest that this is anti-Linux. To me, this is the single biggest accelerant in assuring the success of the most interoperable alternative to the Microsoft Windows PC, called the Java Desktop System (JDS). And that is all about working with the community to drive Linux and Java.

Right now, JDS is shipping only on Linux.

Absolutely. Thats what Wal-Marts shipping.

Connect the dots for me.

Well, if we make our desktop more interoperable with a Microsoft server or with another Microsoft client, it ought to make that desktop all the more appealing in the mass market. So, this is very much about advantaging Suns software efforts, which, as you know, spans Java on all the platforms on which Java runs—Windows, Linux and Solaris.

Next page: We are very much walking before we run, Schwartz says.