Sun has forged key partnerships with companies such as NEC, Microsoft, EDS and CSC that are working well.

Krishnan Thiagarajan

San Francisco, Sept. 22

THE technology industry is moving away from "information age" to the "participation age", says Mr Scott McNealy, Chairman and CEO, Sun Microsystems Inc.

Delivering a keynote speech at the Oracle OpenWorld, 2005 titled "Welcome to the Participation Age", he pointed out that that the technology industry stands at the threshold of a new era where scale, standards and innovation will matter.

To illustrate the staggering scale of global transactions, he said Google handles about 2 billion searches per month, Yahoo generates about 10 terabytes (or 1,000 gigabytes) of data every day, which is equivalent to all the items in the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world and e-Bay conducts 1.4 billion online auctions a year.

If the mission of the industry is to eliminate the digital divide, "the proprietary model of the past is not going to work." For this to happen at a faster pace, he argues that barriers to the growth of technology will have to disappear. The two key barriers, according to Mr McNealy are "choice" and "partnerships" and both will matter in the future.

"Technology has the shelf life of a banana", he claimed and any barriers imposed through proprietary technology by some of the technology giants will break down sooner or later.

Focussing on the partnership model, he said Sun has forged key partnerships with companies, such as NEC, Microsoft, EDS and CSC that are working well. These partnerships are in addition to its 25-year partnership with Oracle.

Talking specifically about Sun's comeback strategy, Mr McNealy said there has been a "rolling thunder of R&D announcements" from the Sun stable.

He outlined at least six key initiatives that could turn out to be an "i-pod moment" for Sun, paying tribute to Mr Steve Jobs, Apple Computers.

It could be anything from the recent launch of Sun's Fire X64 server family, Ultra Sparc IV + processors, Niagara chip (which is in the testing stage), Solaris 10 Operating System, Storage Tek acquisition, Java Enterprise System server software or the Thin Client Strategy in partnership with Microsoft, he added.

"This is the $8-10 billion investment in R&D (with 2.2 billion in the latest year) we have done in the last five years starting to bear fruit," he said.

Any of them, he believes could be Sun's i-pod moment, though he expects to hit on all of them.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 23, 2005)
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