McNealy blasts competitors

The merger between Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. eliminates two competitors from the enterprise systems space, Sun Microsystems Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott McNealy said Thursday.

"We'll have two less competitors" as a result of the merger, McNealy said during a question-and-answer session with two analysts at Gartner Inc.'s Symposium/ITxpo here.

Both companies threw in the towel on their architectures for enterprise computing, said McNealy, who referred to Compaq at one point as "a grocery store for Wintel" and as a "Wintel reseller." The term Wintel refers to the system architecture based on Microsoft Corp.'s operating systems and on Intel Corp.'s processors, which has dominated the PC and small server space and which the two vendors are trying to scale up to the mid-range and high-end server space traditionally dominated by Unix-based servers from vendors such as Sun and IBM Corp.

Intel's efforts to scale up its presence are currently based on its family of 64-bit processors called Itanium, which McNealy jokingly called "Itanic" in a reference to the Titanic shipwreck.

McNealy's tongue was particularly sharp during the session, as he savaged competitors left and right.

He repeatedly accused IBM of having no enterprise-computing strategy and of purposefully complicating scenarios so that its Global Services unit can sell confused customers its consulting and implementation services, along with IBM products. Companies that hire IBM Global Services will be performing "a self-imposed lobotomy," he said.

He also referred to Microsoft's .Net Web-services architecture as .Not, and accused Microsoft of lying constantly. "Microsoft doesn't even flirt with the truth anymore," he said.

The analysts on stage weren't spared his verbal lashes either. When Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer suggested that the Sun ONE platform for Web services hasn't been properly explained and asked whether it should be known as instead as "Sun None," McNealy replied: "You didn't ask (Microsoft CEO Steve) Ballmer questions like these. Are we not paying (Gartner) our bills on time?"

He promised that Sun will be explaining Sun ONE more in depth in the months to come. "Stay tuned. We're putting the story together."

He did state that iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions software will play a big part within Sun ONE, as will Forte development tools. IPlanet is a joint venture between AOL Time Warner Inc. and Sun.

McNealy also defended the Liberty Alliance Project backed by Sun and other vendors as an alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Passport online identification service. "I wouldn't bet against Liberty," he said.

Passport is an attempt by Microsoft to build the largest online directory in the world and to profit from selling that customer information, McNealy claimed. The Liberty project, on the other hand, is open and leaves directory data in the control of each participating company, he maintained. Each company decides how much customer information they will share with another company, on a case-by-case basis, he said.

"The biggest innovation in [Microsoft's] XP [operating system] is a backdoor that allows Microsoft to suck your data out of your machine," McNealy said.

He said Microsoft was invited to be part of the alliance, contradicting Ballmer's assertion at this event on Wednesday that his company hadn't been asked to participate in the project.

The Liberty project "isn't a Sun alliance," he said. There are 14 founding members and the list of companies interested in participating grows constantly, he said. "We're not in control of Liberty. We don't even have veto power."

Although Microsoft and AOL aren't part of the project so far, the Liberty system will be designed to interoperate with Passport and with AOL's own entry called Magic Carpet.

McNealy also dismissed Microsoft's claims that Sun's Java license prevents licensees from innovating. "You are allowed to innovate. You're not allowed to captivate," he said. Sun and Microsoft have wrangled in courts regarding the use of Java. A settlement this year called for Microsoft to stop its Java development, which prompted Microsoft to drop its Java Virtual Machine from its upcoming Windows XP operating system. "Come on down, Steve, and I'll sign another Java license with you again" if Microsoft honors the license agreements, McNealy said.

Although it recently announced it would lay off about 9 percent of its workers, Sun has only made minimal cuts in research and development, McNealy said.

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