TORONTO — Jonathan Schwartz walked with a bounce in his step after addressing a small contingent of Canadian business executives at a downtown hotel recently, detailing the company’s plans for the future.
Regarded as Sun’s CEO Scott McNealy’s right-hand man, the 36-year-old executive vice-president
for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc.’s software group was brimming with a quiet confidence and a not-so-quiet enthusiasm when he spoke to Computing Canada about some of the company’s latest initiatives.
Computing Canada: Sun is spending a fair amount of effort to ensure the Java brand is more visible to consumers and corporations alike. What’s the rationale?
JS: You have to consider why we’re driving Java. The deployment of Java drives an enormous amount of infrastructure. The realization we had about six months ago with Java-enabled handsets in the hands of 100 million consumers — on our way to 300 million consumers by the end of the next 12 months — presented us with an incredible opportunity to drive the visibility and awareness of Java at a level no one has ever seen before.
CC: How will the deals Sun struck with Hewlett-Packard and Dell to include Java on their hardware affect corporate IT departments?
JS: There’s two sides to those deals that will affect corporate IT. It’s a fascinating opportunity in that with HP and Dell agreeing to ship Java on every desktop they deliver, the rest of the PC industry will follow suit. That assures the latest and greatest Java virtual machine will be available on all PCs shipping in the world. Secondly, with the inclusion of a Java card in all of Dell’s PCs, you’ll be able to stick your Amex blue card in there or your telephone [card] and buy something online and have it show up on your phone bill . . . it’ll make things much more secure, more consistent across platforms.
CC: Open source on the desktop only has about two per cent of the overall market right now. What are your predictions for how those numbers will change in the next five years?
JS: Bear in mind the Mac has about one per cent. As we go from two to four per cent, which is what I project will happen in the next year, and then from four to eight and from eight to 16 (per cent), we’re on a very aggressive ramp to replace Microsoft. We’re making a ton of progress.
CC: Recently, Gartner advised corporations to reconsider implementing Linux on mission critical systems due to the possibility of legal action (from SCO). Do you think this situation has the potential to dampen enthusiasm for adopting open source development?
JS: There’s a lot of euphoria around how open source is different than other ways of developing software. It’s a licensing convention and a way of using people you don’t have to pay to deliver your product. But at the end of the day, customers don’t care if it’s open source or not. If you have a really crappy open source product, no one will use it. If you have an incredible open source product, people will use it all the time. I don’t think open source, one way or the other, has any relevance to a CIO.
CC: Do you foresee Sun and AMD developing a microprocessing chip together at some point in the future?
JS: I wouldn’t rule it out. AMD has done a great job with Opteron in that they provide X86 compatibility. I think that really leaves HP, which has opted not to ship Opteron, between a rock and a hard place because the path they’ve elected to pursue blocks out anyone who wants to run a 32-bit X86 application.
CC: When you were a kid, which did you pester your parents to purchase for you: The Atari 2600 or Intellivision?
JS: No question, an Atari. Every kid really wants to control their own environment. Atari really struck at the ability to control the game environment as a computing platform. Many people grow up with that, and many of us ended up in the computing industry where it’s all about controlling your environment.