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Sun nabs IBM exec for software division

Sun Microsystems taps Patricia Sueltz, one of IBM's major software executives, to run its software division, the company announced this morning.

Sun Microsystems has tapped Patricia Sueltz, one of IBM's major software executives, to run its software division, the company announced this morning.

Sueltz, the former general manager of IBM's Java software division, will become the president of the software and platform division at Sun, which controls Sun's Java and Jini development as well as its Solaris operating system, Sun President Ed Zander said today.

"Sun's gain is IBM's loss," said analyst Eric Brown of Forrester Research. "[Sueltz] comes to the job with a wide-angle view of Java, from big computers to small devices. And that's important for the new position, because Sun's strategy has that wide-angle view of Java, from smart cards to supercomputers."

She replaces Alan Baratz, who left Sun on August 3 to become the managing director at New York-based private equity firm E.M. Warburg Pincus.

"What we've been looking for was a seasoned manager" who could help Sun "create an integrated software strategy inside the company," Zander said in a conference call today.

She also will get to deal with the continuing saga of Sun's lawsuit against Microsoft.

Baratz resigned shortly after Sun formed its software products and platforms division in July. The resignation took many by surprise. Some speculated that Baratz left because Sun's alliance with Netscape reduced some of the division's authority by moving many software products out of his domain.

Jon Kannegaard, who held the job since Baratz left, will step back to his job running the "write once, run anywhere" Java software.

In the conference call, Sueltz said she will work to keep Java technology a single, unified standard--a Sun position that Hewlett-Packard and others have chafed against because of intellectual property and royalty concerns.

"Clearly, it's my hope that we keep this wonderful standard together," she said. "We do not want to fracture the industry. My goal is to keep the standard open and keep it moving forward as one standard."

Sun's strong Java relationship with IBM will continue, Zander said.

"I think this will help [relations with IBM], because Pat has a good understanding of the partnerships that will be needed to make Java and Jini acceptable in the long term," said Zander.

Sueltz will become full-time employee over the next two weeks, Zander said.

She performed a good job coordinating all the Java development efforts within IBM as the company embraced the programming language in everything from software development tools to mainframes and AS/400 servers, Brown said.

"She managed to turn the individual value of all those Java initiatives into a coordinated strategy, using it as a strategic force across IBM's formerly disjointed product initiatives," Brown said. "She made sure Java was a unifying and not a fragmenting force at IBM."