RealTime IT News

McNealy's Evangelist Turn Hits Feds

WASHINGTON -- In one of his first public appearances since stepping down as CEO of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy stepped up as the company's "chief evangelist" and chairman of Sun Federal.

The brash executive was in town to preside over the announcement of new storage products from the company as part of a quarterly news event.

Speaking before several hundred federal systems administrators Tuesday at the Washington Convention Center, McNealy told the crowd he couldn't tell Sun's story while strapped to a desk in Santa Clara, Calif.

"You can't do it with Super Bowl ads, you've got to get out in front of the media, the analysts and customers and tell the story," he said.

"Making money will help also," the notoriously brash McNealy added.

In its last quarterly filing, Sun reported a $217 million loss. McNealy found hope, though, in the numbers as sales and gross margins were up. The losses were in large part due to $87 million in acquisition charges, $57 million in stock-based compensation charges and $36 million of restructuring charges.

McNealy said he was confident Sun would return to profitability and "then we'll be cool again."

Part of the plan is capturing a larger share of the government data storage market. McNealy and other Sun executives from the company's Data Management Group spoke extensively of new ways to move from simply storing data to making the data accessible and manageable.

"It's not about storage, but the data," James Whitemore, Sun's vice president for marketing, said. "More storage capacity is not the answer."

McNealy said the biggest challenge for government agencies is to eliminate entry and exit barriers to changing systems since most vendors sell closed-proprietary systems.

"[Agencies] are under such restraints," he said. "Some of these [government] systems have been running forever."

McNealy also noted that the open source industry hasn't helped matters by "being more screwed up than health care," mixing and matching server systems like "mini Noah's Arks."

On the other hand, McNealy said desktop systems were all Dolly the sheep.

As of part of the Sun road show, the systems vendor introduced a four-step data management strategy addressing identity management, virtualization, security and open and integratable systems and software for greater business value.

Included among the new products introduced Tuesday were the Sun StorageTek 5320 NAS Appliance and new versions of the company's Virtual Storage Manager and Enterprise Storage Manager.

"If Web 1.0 was all about computing, then Web 2.0 is also about data," said Mark Canepa, executive vice president for Sun's Data Management Group.

"More than ever, data is the lifeblood for business growth in the enterprise. Traditional approaches to storage are not enough for enterprise customers to compete."

Sun also previewed new technologies that will create new categories of storage products.

"We start with identity management and authentication. We're building it into all our storage products," McNealy said. "Other than IBM -- maybe -- we're only company that has all the pieces."