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Top Sun server exec to retire

John Shoemaker, the executive in charge of the company's server and processor work, will retire July 1, the company plans to announce Tuesday.

John Shoemaker, the executive in charge of Sun Microsystems' server and processor work, will retire July 1, the company plans to announce Tuesday.

Shoemaker, 59, has been with the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company since 1990, more than half of the company's 20-year history. He joined as the person in charge of manufacturing and logistics and rose to the rank of executive vice president of computer systems.

He's leaving during a tumultuous time: The company has largely completed its transition to servers based on the UltraSparc III processor but faces fierce competition from IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Intel. Meanwhile, Sun is expanding its product line in a major new direction, including Linux on servers with Intel-compatible chips.

Shoemaker won't be replaced; instead, the three executives under his command will report directly to Chief Operating Officer Ed Zander when Sun's next fiscal year begins July 1, said spokeswoman Kasey Holman. The reorganization was triggered by Shoemaker's decision to retire, not vice versa, she added.

Those three executives are Clark Masters, in charge of Sun's high-end and midrange "V1" servers; Neil Knox, head of the lower-end and blade "H1" systems that ship in larger quantities; and David Yen, head of the microprocessor work.

After retirement, Shoemaker will take a part-time post training managers at Sun's new leadership institute, Holman said.

At Sun, Shoemaker took over servers in 1995, leading the acquisition of Cray's 64-processor server, which Sun began selling in the mid-1990s as the Enterprise 10000 "Starfire" server.

The product, which had sophisticated features far beyond the rest of Sun's product line, launched Sun well ahead of its Unix server competition, lifted the company to the top spot in the Unix server market just in time to capitalize on the Internet spending spree, and eventually triggered competitive responses from HP and IBM.

Only in the last year has Sun come up with a second generation of products, the Sun Fire line, that improve on the Starfire system.

Shoemaker, a native of Rochester, N.Y., holds a bachelor's degree in political science and business from Hanover College and a master's in business administration from Indiana University.