A Technical Visionary Talks About the Present and Future

Earlier today, I ran into Rags Srinivas, CTO of Sun's Technology Outreach team, who graciously agreed to chat with me for a few minutes for the benefit of my Sun Tech Days Atlanta blog. That means the Star of the Wonders of Spontaneity is shining on me today: He and I corresponded before but never had a chance to talk at length. I thoroughly enjoyed our chat: Rags is ever-enlightening, pleasant, and so down-to-earth that he reminds me of a well respected manager at Sun before, whom everyone described as being "always capable of calming you down."

"So, tell me how you came to join Sun--10 years ago, you said?--and what makes you tick?" I asked, to set the stage.

"I taught computer languages courses--C, C++, and Java--before joining Sun as a technology evangelist. See, I enjoy trying out technologies and explaining them in simple terms. The Sun job opened a big horizon for me and gave me the opportunity of presenting to easily 500 people at forums like Sun Tech Days instead of only 20-25 students in a typical class," Rags said.

As for his key responsibilities, Rags cited three major bullets:

  • Think ahead: What's down the road?
    An example is JavaFX technology, which wasn't even known this time last year but is now becoming a household word among developers. Rag demonstrated JavaFX [technology] a year ago, however. "That was its first-ever demo," he added.
  • Help steer along technology releases.
    An example is Java SE 6, Update N. An early-access release will be available soon.
  • Support the technical evangelists, program managers, writers (such as yours truly), and such in reaching out to developers.
    An example is Sun Tech Days. Rags sets the technology priorities and determines the content agenda with developers in mind: "I constantly remind myself that what's relevant to Sun might not be relevant to them."

I asked Rags to flash his crystal ball. "Technology has gotten out of hand, no doubt about that," he remarked. "There are way too many ways to do the same thing. Developers tell me that all they desire is one robust solution for a specific problem. And why not? If the cost of maintenance is going through the roof, as it sure is in the software world nowadays, the business suffers."

That's no surprise, though, according to Rags, because technologies must evolve and growing pains abound. Ultimately, balance is the key. "As my manager tells me, 'You're the BS filter.' So, given that Ajax offers 15 frameworks, I pick two or three and tell the world. One word of advice: Don't spread yourself too thin as you scramble to learn all the cutting-edge stuff."

As for the future, Rags says that even though evolvement will go on, software complexities will multiply and cost a bundle to maintain. So, we must cut the redundancies and ineffective ways. "But we're nowhere near that goal," he concluded with a smile.

And life will continue to be challenging and full for CTOs.


Do visit the Sun Tech Days site.

Comments:

[Trackback] Spontaneity works beautifully at times. Early in the afternoon on this second day of Sun Tech Days Atlanta, I had the good fortune of interviewing Rags Srinivas, CTO of Technology Outreach at Sun.

Posted by Marina Sum's Blog on January 10, 2008 at 08:52 AM PST #

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