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Stephen Shankland

Staff Writer, CNET

Sun Microsystems has laid off employees in its software group, part of a gradually expanding job-cut program by a company that has yet to return to consistent revenue growth.

Sun spokeswoman Stephanie Von Allmen confirmed the Feb. 15 cuts but declined to say which part of the company’s software group was being hit. She said the company isn’t backing off from its software commitment, which has gained prominence at the company with the 2004 elevation of former software chief Jonathan Schwartz to president and chief operating officer.

The cuts were part of an expansion of an earlier 3,300-employee layoff announced the day Schwartz was promoted. In October, Sun increased the number to 3,500. Now it has reached 3,600, Von Allmen said.

Sun posted an $18 million profit for its most recent quarter, but the Santa Clara, Calif., company’s revenue declined. Among the company’s plans for restoring itself to prominence is a heavy emphasis on servers with Advanced Micro Devices’ Opteron processor, the OpenSolaris project to build an open-source community around the company’s version of Unix, a partnership with Fujitsu around Sparc processors, and a simplified software pricing strategy.