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Novell gets Java cocreator

Novell chief executive Eric Schmidt continues to make over the networking company by hiring Mike Sheridan, formerly of Sun.

Novell chief executive Eric Schmidt has continued his makeover of the networking company by adding another figure from his past at Sun Microsystems.

Mike Sheridan, an original member of the Sun group that created the Java technology, has joined Novell as vice president of strategic businesses, to target new Internet businesses based on Java and Novell's NDS directory services, its NetWare platform, and other Novell technologies.

Sheridan will report directly to Schmidt, formerly Sun's chief technology officer, who is making Java and the Internet linchpins in Novell's turnaround. But Schmidt's big server-side bet on Java could backfire if Java doesn't blossom quickly.

Sheridan's move also shows that struggling Novell, or perhaps Schmidt himself, can draw top Java talent.

"We've seen increased interest from top developers in Novell since Eric Schmidt took over last April," said Novell spokesman Jonathan Cohen.

Novell historically has had trouble attracting software developers, so hitching itself to Java's "write once, run anywhere" claim could help it recapture developer support. Novell also has lacked easy-to-use application development tools.

On May 21, Novell reported its third consecutive profitable quarter, beating Wall Street estimates.

Sheridan worked with Sun's James Gosling and Patrick Naughton, now president of Starwave, which is being acquired by Disney on the so-called Green Project that created Java. Most recently he was director of Sun's Persona project, developing small-business and personal servers.

Novell also claims it has the world's fastest Java virtual machine, the software layer that allows Java applications to be executed. It is due to ship this summer as part of NetWare 5.0.