Download (direct link):
Undeterred, McNealy stays convinced of his mission, which is no less than to overthrow the personal computer. “The PC is just a blip. It’s a big, bright blip,” says McNealy. “Fifty years from now, people are going to look back and say: ‘Did you really have a computer on
THE OB SKILLS WORKBOOK 267
Sun Microsystems: è
"We're the dot in .com" Â
Developed by David S. Chappell, Ohio University
hat does it take to foster a computer revolution? Bill Gates’s Microsoft model, based on distributed personal computers with software (largely Microsoft’s) loaded on each individual machine, may be slowly giving way to a networked system long championed by McNealy’s Sun Microsystems. In fact, McNealy has been one of the few computer industry leaders to take on Microsoft directly with a zeal and tenacity that is legendary. Steven M. Milunovich, an analyst with Merrill Lynch and Company, argues that “If you want to know where the computer industry is going, ask Sun.”1
your desk? How weird.’”6 Analyst C.
B. Lee of Sutro and Company and a former Sun manager argues that “McNealy shoots off his mouth too much. At some point, you’ve gotta be more mature.”7
Offsetting McNealy’s brashness is Ed Zander, chief operating officer for Sun, who exhibits a more conservative aura. “I think McNealy and Zander are kind of like yin and yang,” says Milunovich from Merrill Lynch. “McNealy is the high priest of the religion. Ed is much more pragmatic. Having both is very good for Sun.”8
One thing McNealy has been able to accomplish is the constant reinvention of Sun as times and external conditions change. Starting with workstations and their various components, he has now positioned the firm to offer top-of-the-line servers that power the Internet.
With the development of Java and Jini, Sun is evolving into a powerful software machine that serves to drive the Internet and future “information appliances.”
To do this, Sun recognizes the need for talented people. Many observers rate Sun’s employees among the most talented in Silicon Valley. To keep them in a competitive marketplace, Sun emphasizes perks:
Family care: Adoptive parents receive financial assistance of up to $2000. Lactation rooms help new mothers return to work. In the San Francisco Bay Area, parents can take sick children to a special day-care center that cares for children with minor illnesses. Sun also offers a dependent-care spending account, a consultation and referral program, and an employee-assistance program providing short-term professional counseling.
Private workspace: When Sun
268 THE OB SKILLS WORKBOOK
designed its Menlo Park, California campus, the company asked employees for suggestions—and found that engineers prefer private offices over Dilbert-like cubicles. The engineers got the space they demanded for quiet development time.
Respecting employee time:
Flexible hours and telecommuting help accommodate busy schedules and keep employees from wasting time on California freeways. Train travelers can catch a special shuttle to Sun facilities, and the company reimburses some commuting costs.9
Hard to Find Where the Sun Don't Shine
As early as 1987, Sun coined the phrase, “The network is the comput-er.”10 But it has only been recently, with the full advent of the Internet coupled with Sun’s Java programming language, that all the pieces may actually be falling into place to make this vision a reality. “Microsoft’s vision was to put a mainframe on everybody’s desktop,” claims McNealy. “We want to provide dial tone for the Internet. We couldn’t have more different
In 1995, Java was introduced as the first universal software designed from the ground up for Internet and corporate intranet developers to write applications that run on any computer, regardless of the processor or operating system.12 Most recently Sun has introduced Jini, a promising technology that lets computers and appliances connect to a network as simply as a telephone plugs into the wall.13 Sun’s objective is to make access to the Internet and computing as simple as picking up a phone and hearing a “Webtone”.
Even Microsoft yielded to Java’s appeal, licensing a version to develop its own line of software. Java’s appeal is its ability to lower companies’ IT costs because it runs unchanged on any device with a computer chip, enabling everything from wallet-sized cards to trucks to communicate over a network. However, Microsoft and Sun immediately got into a battle when Microsoft made a proprietary version of Java to run only on Windows programs. Sun sued and has won an initial ruling against Microsoft.
Sun claims that network computing will herald a shift away from personal computers to more friendly appliances such as phones, digital assistants, and televisions. It hopes Java will provide the link to its powerful network servers with these new network devices.14 Microsoft prefers its Windows CE operating system to provide this link. In addition, it views Web appliances as “companions” rather than replacements to today’s PCs.