Comdex: McNealy offers Sun's vision of integration

Sun chairman and chief executive officer Scott McNealy urged a well-attended session at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas to...

Sun chairman and chief executive officer Scott McNealy urged a well-attended session at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas to focus on reducing the complexity of their systems.

Companies should look for ways to reduce the number of servers they use, consolidating multiple Web and application servers on a single, high-end platform such as Sun's Sun Fire 15 K line, McNealy said.

Software development efforts should abandon the operating system and begin targeting high-level, platform-free environments such as Java, XML (Extensible Markup Language), and Sun's own Sun ONE (Open Network Environment) offerings, he added.

Organisations should invest in directory systems that use LDAP (Lightweight Directory Application Protocol) and provide single sign-on and user authentication capabilities to both simplify and secure network operations, according to McNealy.

The Sun chief highlighted his company's focus on developing a "Lego-like" architecture that is Web-focused and flexible, allowing customers to integrate Sun's servers, microprocessors, software and tools with products produced by third-party vendors with ease.

McNealy juxtaposed this to competitor Microsoft 's strategy which, he said, is based upon "welding shut" components.

Alluding to Microsoft's close integration of Internet Explorer with the Windows operating system, which was at the heart of the US Department of Justice's antitrust case against the company, McNealy chastised Microsoft for what he called its closed approach.

"I can't believe that they've architected their technology so poorly that simply removing an application will shut down an operating system," he said.

Despite the high-profile rivalry between Sun and Microsoft, McNealy left his harshest criticism for IBM, whom he presented as Sun's chief competition in the corporate data centre and whom he attacked for what he characterised as a costly, and closed approach to building business solutions.

In a question and answer session, McNealy said the company's N1 network architecture and IForce partner programs would answer the problem of deploying and integrating complex and heterogenous systems.

However, he estimated that it would be five years or more before the N1 technology was mature and gave no indication of how long it would be before Sun's investments in research and development would bear fruit.

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