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Sun merging three software divisions

Sun will reshuffle its management July 1, folding three software divisions under Alan Baratz and creating a new network service provider division.

Sun Microsystems will reshuffle the top of its management deck July 1, folding its three software divisions under one boss and creating a new network service provider division.

Alan Baratz, head of Sun's Java software division, also will manage its other two software divisions, which deal with the Solaris operating system and with consumer and "embedded" technology, a source familiar with the reorganization said today. Baratz's new group will be called the software products and platforms division.

Sun announced the changes to employees today.

John McFarlane, who has led the Solaris unit, will become president of the new network service provider group, part of an initiative Sun unveiled earlier this month that aims to make the company's hardware part of sophisticated Internet services.

In an April interview with CNET, president Ed Zander said Sun would reorganize management of its three software-related groups. The move is required because Sun gutted its divisions when it diverted hundreds of employees to work on the software products within the new Sun-Netscape alliance, Zander said at the time.

Zander had characterized the moves as a management change that wouldn't affect rank-and-file employees, but this does not appear to be the case. Although no layoffs are anticipated, some will be "redeployed" to other jobs within Sun.

In addition, Sun will put a renewed emphasis on developing hardware and software for "thin clients" and "Web-top" boxes--inexpensive computers that connect to more powerful machines over the network.

Sun also has decided to merge the developer relations group with the market development group to create a new group called--logically enough--the developer relations and market development group. Doug Kaewert, currently head of the developer relations group, will head the combined effort.

About 1,000 Sun employees were reassigned from Sun's three software-related divisions to the Sun-Netscape alliance, which calls for Sun to resell and help develop Netscape server software. Among those committed to the effort is Mark Tolliver, the former head of the consumer and embedded division and now the leader of the joint venture.

Some of the old management structure will be preserved in the form of three groups within Baratz's organization. Three vice presidents will report to Baratz. Taking Tolliver's place at consumer/embedded will be Mike Clary, manager of Sun's "spontaneous networking" Jini technology. Jon Kanegaard, currently general manager of the Java platform, will lead the Java group. And Anil Gadre of Sun's computer systems group has been promoted to run the Solaris group.

Zander said last month that he had planned to centralize Sun management over time, but that America Online's acquisition of Netscape and the resulting partnership with Sun forced the company to act faster than expected.

The Sun-Netscape alliance will focus mostly on "middleware"--software products that help clients take advantage of the data and software on back-end servers. Where appropriate, the products from that alliance will be sold in partnership with the products from the network service provider division.