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Sun reclaims Apple exec for Solaris marketing

Sun Microsystems lures Tom Goguen from the Mac maker, a move that could intensify one corporate rivalry: hockey.

SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems has hired a new vice president of marketing for its Solaris operating system, luring Tom Goguen from Apple Computer.

Goguen had worked for Sun on Solaris in the 1990s. He returned to the server and software company on Nov. 1, said Ingrid van den Hoogen, Sun's vice president of brand experience and community marketing.

In his time away from Sun, Goguen worked on two other operating systems that rival Microsoft's Windows. In 2001, he was director of product development for Eazel, a company that tried but failed to popularize Linux for mainstream computer users. And most recently, he was in charge of marketing Apple's Mac OS X for servers and high-performance technical computing.

Sun has high ambitions for Solaris, a version of the Unix operating system. It's most often found on Sun servers using the company's UltraSparc processors, but the company has undertaken an effort to popularize it on much more widely used machines based on x86 chips such as Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron and Intel's Xeon.

"What really pushed me over the edge was looking at (Solaris) and thinking there are some legs here, some opportunities here, some fantastic technology here," Goguen said in an interview. He also said Sun will benefit from his experience at Apple with a much larger customer base.

Sun plans to debut its newest version, Solaris 10, on Nov. 15. In coming weeks, it plans to make Solaris open-source software in an effort to lure new programmer interest. Apple embarked on a similar strategy in 2000 with its Mac OS X, basing the software in part on the open-source FreeBSD version of Unix, but Sun's closer rival is Linux, sold by companies such as Red Hat and Novell.

Though Sun's corporate customers are very different from Apple's consumers, they have some similarities, Goguen said. "Data centers have the same fear around pure open source. How do (the customers) get support?" Goguen said. "There are experiences there which I will leverage in this new position."

Sun and Apple rarely compete directly in the computer marketplace, but Goguen's move could increase one corporate rivalry: hockey. The two companies have squared off annually in Sun Chief Executive Scott McNealy's favorite sport, and Goguen had played on Apple's team.

CNET's Ina Fried contributed to this report.