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Exec exodus continues at Sun

A senior executive responsible for bringing Sun Microsystems closer to open-source technology has left, the latest in a series of high-profile departures for the company.

A senior executive responsible for bringing Sun Microsystems closer to open-source technology has left, the latest in a series of high-profile departures for the company.

The departure of Stephen DeWitt, vice president and general manager of content delivery and edge computing, was confirmed Thursday by a Sun representative. The news comes a day after the company announced that Chief Operating Officer Ed Zander would retire.

DeWitt was previously the chief executive of Cobalt, a maker of lower-end servers that Sun acquired in 2000 for $2 billion.

Several other executives have recently announced plans to leave the company, raising concerns on Wall Street about the future strength of Sun's leadership ranks.

Sun shares dropped for a second day, falling 52 cents, or 7 percent, to $6.45 on Thursday. The loss compounded Wednesday's 15 percent drop following Zander's departure announcement, a dip some financial analysts said was an extreme reaction to the news.

The company's Linux servers fit into the "H1" server group, a group that focuses on smaller servers that ship in large quantities. The group is headed by Neil Knox. With the retirement of Zander and John Shoemaker, Sun's server chief, Knox will report directly to McNealy.

Sun's first Linux servers, running a Sun-supported version of Linux from market-leading Red Hat, are due out this year. Sun has been cautious with Linux, preferring instead to devote its research funding to its own Solaris operating system.

But the company eventually bowed to the growing popularity of Linux for lower-end servers, with CEO McNealy wearing a penguin suit at a Sun annual meeting to emphasize his conversion.