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New Software Head in Sun Management Shift

New faces are taking over in key spots at Sun Microsystems as the company restructures itself out of ten quarters of red ink

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker said Monday that it has promoted John Loiacono to executive vice president of software, replacing Jonathan Schwartz. Schwartz became president and COO of Sun on Friday as part of a corporate restructuring and $1.9 billion settlement with Microsoft .

Previously, Loiacono was senior vice president of Sun's operating platforms group and was in charge of the strategic direction of the Solaris and Linux platforms, as well as the Java Enterprise System.

He was also instrumental in porting the Solaris operating environment including SPARC, Intel/Xeon and Sun's highlighted deal with AMD to develop Opteron processors for Solaris. Loiacono has been with Sun since 1987 and previously served as Chief Marketing Officer.

Now, Sun says Loiacono will lead the division responsible for delivering on Sun's network computing strategy, which includes the upcoming Solaris 10, the complete lineup of Sun's Java offerings including the programming language, Java Enterprise System, Java Desktop, Java Cards, Java Studio Creator developer tool, as well as Sun's N1 Grid service and on-demand products.

"John has the right energy and aggressiveness to take Sun's software to the next level, building on our most recent successes with alternative desktops, the dramatic growth and acceptance of the Java platform, the Solaris Operating System, developer tools and initiatives, and the Java Enterprise System, while creating new opportunities and innovations in the marketplace," Schwartz said in a statement. "I have tremendous confidence in his vision and ability to lead through change. His passion is contagious and his commitment unquestionable."

But Loiacono will have fewer resources to deal with as Sun said approximately 3,300 people would be let go from its workforce. The company Friday said the cuts would come in a combination of both the company's employee headcount and reduction in office space. Executives did not detail further specifics.

"Cutting 10 percent of workforce is pretty dramatic, so Sun is being very bold," Yankee Group analyst Dana Gardner said. "Sun is fighting for its future and cutting costs in a very bold fashion and creating new partnership in a bold fashion."

One person that won't be on staff already is Rich Green, Sun's vice president of developer platforms. The pro-Java developer guru was heading up Sun's Project Rave, now known as Java Studio Creator. A Sun spokesperson said Green's leaving was a planned issue, which was delayed pending the announcement with Microsoft. Chris Atwood, director of engineering, would lead the developer platform and tools group until Loiacono has a chance to shift through the budget. Green is expected to announce his new venture in the next few days.

Sun's maneuvers come after months of browbeating and nay Sayers in the analyst community who said Sun would not be able to sustain profitability unless it made certain changes with regard to the way to positions and sells its hardware and software. The company had been losing ground in the server arena to rivals such as IBM and HP.

"For Sun, this is just a piece of an overall story together with the new title for Jonathan Schwartz and John Loiacono," Meta Group analyst Tom Murphy said. "Part of their evolution is to talk about software overall. This opens door to N1 and how it manages Solaris, Linux and Windows. It talks about Sun being a player in a heterogeneous world."

With additional reporting by Ron Miller