Ian Murdock announced yesterday that he has joined Sun Microsystems as Chief Operating Platforms Officer. Ian describes his move on his blog. Stephen O'Grady at Redmonk has a good commentary and summary of other blog commentary.
This is a great move for Sun, the Linux Foundation, and Ian.
Sun (as most UNIX OEMs through the 1990s) invested heavily in ISV relationships. Sun was hit hard by the Bubble bursting. Linux was cheap "UNIX" in the eyes of many customers, bought out of their PC hardware catalog as it were. Gravity shifted for the ISVs away from Sun and over to the dominant Linux vendors through the excellent efforts of the Free Standards Group and others. As Sun begins to reassert itself as a cool computing platform again, they need to re-engage with ISVs (both new and old alike). Having Ian on board with his background in Linux binary compatibility opens up new opportunities for new discussions with those ISVs. This doesn't mean that this is the strategy, just that it opens possibilities that wouldn't otherwise exist without the relationships and history that comes with Ian.
The Linux Foundation:
First, while they're losing a CTO, they're gaining a strong champion in a vendor that is on the rise again and has long supported UNIX standardization, and will remain LSB chair.
Second, everyone always wants to understand why Red Hat plays so coy with the LSB. As the dominant Linux vendor, the last positioning they want is "we're just like everyone else." Solaris on Intel opens interesting new opportunities for Sun customers looking to transition to new less expensive hardware. They didn't want rewrite costs to Windows (their backlog is growing not shrinking so re-writes are uninteresting) and were considering Linux. Red Hat has interesting competition again. If Sun starts to play well with the LSB, Red Hat will participate more. They can ignore Novell et al. It would be dangerous for them to ignore Sun the same way.
Read his blog entry. He's clearly excited. Sun lost its cool for a while. It's great to see it getting its game back. While both Microsoft and Red Hat may scoff for various reasons, and wave market share numbers around as "proof" of its insignificance, what neither of them realize (or possibly want to admit) is it's about profitability and installed base, and not market share. Sun is becoming cool again and Ian's in an awesome position to help it.