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Sun: a 3-Letter Word Meaning (Says McNealy) "Low-Cost Computing"

* Breaking News from COMDEX *

Opening COMDEX 2003 this morning in Las Vegas, Scott McNealy - chairman, president, and CEO of Sun Microsystems - had one thing to say above all about the future of technology: "The network is still the computer."

"Through all of the noise and the stock meltdown," McNealy said, "the network remains. The network is everywhere. Those who think it's not happening are missing the bet."

Considered by many to be potentially one of the most important addresses he has given since the incorporation of the company in February 1982, McNealy then went on to describe Sun's three-pronged attack on IT - with something for those running data centers, something for developers, and something for the end user.

Scott McNealy in action on the keynote stage at the first day of COMDEX 2003
with John Loiacono, head of Sun's operating systems products. Photo Copyright SYS-CON Media

Re-Stating Sun's Significance

"Sometimes we have to step above the noise," McNealy explained, "and re-state our significance."

That significance was most easily illustrated, McNealy reckoned, by the facts - whether it's the fact that, as he reminded everyone attending COMDEX and those tuned in to the Web simulcast worldwide, he is just one of the now 150 million owners of a Java-enabled phone, or the fact that 7 million Web sites run Java, "including all the major portals" (hockey-lover McNealy is particularly proud of the fact that NHL.com is one of them!).

"Sun supports 100% of the global Fortune 500, and 70% of Nasdaq companies," he went on, before mentioning that Java Cards alone were now seemingly as prevalent as plankton in the ocean.

Photo Copyright SYS-CON Media

Without stopping to drill down into the nuances of the Java Card 2.2.1 specification or to toot his horn about how Sun has beaten the world at showing that it can make something as small as credit card that still has the computing power of an Apple II computer, McNealy instead rattled off the success stories - "Belgium is putting in a national identify system, that's 10 million Java Cards right there."

Java smart cards would soon be issued the 5 million Department of Defense and US government users of the sensitive systems upon which national security depends, so that only after their card is authenticated using "multifactor authentication" are they able to get anywhere in those systems.

It is all an example of Sun's overriding commitment to reducing cost and complexity, McNealy declared.

"We're simplifying the business model," he continued. Including his own. "Imagine if we'd just used yahoo.com for e-mail and Salesforce.com for ERP, how many fewer employees I'd have needed at Sun," he said - only half jokingly.

He said he admires the model of Salesforce.com, with its 6,700 corporate customers but only one way of billing you. He loves scale and he loves simplicity.

"Our mission critical-strategy is moving the entire Chinese Ministry of Railways on to a single secure sign-on server. That's one million employees."

Simplicity. And with it, cost reductions.

And lots of cool technology and innovations.

"We're not doing mainframes," McNealy said, "we're focused with a heavy R&D bent, investing nearly $2 billion in R & D. I've yet to walk into a customer and have them say 'Please stop doing all this invention!'"

"Unload Java!"

Everybody's writing to him these days, he said. One correspondent urged him to "Unload Java."

"Hmm," mused McNealy out loud. "Ford, why don't you unload cars?" (The "Go figure" was unspoken but obvious.)

But McNealy didn't dwell on Sun's software for he had a major hardware announcement to make.

"We're now cheaper than Dell, and we have a Solaris X86 that runs like the wind," he said, noting that the fastest-growing part of our Sun's computer product lies in the data center, with people buying these machines in quantities from 1 to 100.

But people also want performance, he conceded, which is why he introduced next the President & CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc -  known as AMD worldwide  - to confirm that today Sun and AMD were announcing the solution that both companies believe the industry has been waiting for: to be able to run both 32- and 64-bit computers. Henceforth, Sun's Java Enterprise System would be offered on the AMD Opteron processor.

"Both Sun and AMD have been working to figure out how do we best allow the IT community to exploit the 64-bit stuff," said Hector J. de Ruiz. "One of the things they want is the disruptive technology without the disruption costs. They want standards, and they want control."

As McNealy said, in conclusion: "Sun is trying to improve the life and times of those stuck in the machine room. We are the only company trying to do the right thing, long term."

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JDJ News Desk monitors the world of Java to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards in the Java and i-technology space.

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