Sunday May 13, 2007

SeeBeyond serendipity

You never know what you get when you buy a company. Sun bought SeeBeyond to get an integration system, and it turns out that one of the best things they got, without knowing it at the time, was something that had nothing to do with integration: the F3 graphics scripting language, now known as JavaFX Script. Just announced at JavaOne, it is a whole new direction for Sun, competing directly with Flash and Silverlight.

F3 was originally developed by SeeBeyond's own Chris Oliver and the small group he headed, including Ricardo Rocha, and it's a tribute to both SeeBeyond and Sun that they were willing to stick with the project when another company might have written it off. It's great to be part of an outfit that is willing to take a chance on seemingly crazy ideas, and to keep supporting the people who dream them up, even when some of them fail.

More prosaically, Sun took a chance with its recent half price sale, which had the unintended bad effect of alienating our channel partners. But Sun recovered quickly, soothed the channel, Jonathan apologized, and life went on without recriminations. To my mind, Sun's encouragement of risk-taking ideas is one of its greatest strengths.

Tuesday Sep 12, 2006

Sun on the move in healthcare

One of the less-noticed benefits of Sun's acquisition of SeeBeyond is that it infused a massive amount of healthcare expertise and goodwill into Sun. You can see a nice example of this today on CNET, in this article by Wayne Owens, the Sun/SeeBeyond SVP of healthcare, and Frank Richards, CIO of Geisinger Health System, a Sun/SeeBeyond customer. Healthcare is now a major vertical for Sun, and we have a real opportunity to increase all Americans' well-being. It's ironic, but there is a real possibility that investing in relatively mundane tasks like electronic recordkeeping and systems integration can do more to increase our level of health than a comparable investment in exotic diagnostic and surgical equipment.

Friday Aug 25, 2006

Sun and SeeBeyond one year on

Today marks the one year anniversary of Sun's acquisition of SeeBeyond. We had a little party for all hands this week to celebrate, and Dale Ferrario said some nice things. As I think back over the year, what strikes me the most is Sun's culture of niceness. Everyone I talk to from Sun just seems to have a good attitude, and to go out of their way to be helpful.

Another thing that has taken some getting used to is that Sun is BIG. It sometimes takes a while to figure out who to talk to about something. At the old SeeBeyond, you just had to walk around the building until you found the right person. The nice thing about this, though, is that Sun has massive resources to draw on. Marketing at SeeBeyond was a hit-and-miss affair, run on a shoestring. Now that Java CAPS is fully integrated into Sun, product managers like me are pleasantly surprised that there is a whole crew of marketing people now devoted to our welfare. I am basking in resources, nay wallowing. I like to think we've brought a few things to Sun, too, like great technology and a kind of street savvy that Sun may have grown away from, but now seems to be recovering, in part from contact with the scruffy SeeBeyond pirates. So, one year on, I think it's been good for both of us.

Sunday Jun 04, 2006

What Sun got when it bought SeeBeyond

It's a beautiful thing when a plan begins to come together. Sun didn't buy SeeBeyond on a whim -- they had a definite strategy in mind, and there is a nice blog entry this weekend from my boss's boss's boss, Dale Ferrario, about how the pieces of our SOA strategy are coalescing into a coherent whole that is built on both Sun's and SeeBeyond's now-integrated SOA stack. There are some nice links to software downloads and background articles. SOA is the Next Big Thing in enterprise computing, and Dale's blog is a very good place to start if you want to begin to grok what it's all about.

Wednesday May 31, 2006

The natives are grumbling

I guess the Sun/SeeBeyond honeymoon is over. Today we all got this email (slightly edited to protect the guilty):

"Starting June 1 the vending machines in the building will have the item prices adjusted to be consistent with other Sun facilities. The number of vending machines will also be changed to 6 beverage and 4 snack available in the building in the break rooms. The new item prices will be:  Gum/mints .50 --Reg candy .65 --Bag candy 1.25 --Large chips .70 --Bag cookies .75 --Fresh pastry 1.25 --Can beverage .65 --20-oz bottle 1.00."

Since under the SeeBeyond regime all items were .25, and there were more machines to choose from, this is a major bummer. I haven't heard this many complaints since April 15.

I just hope the new soda vendor will be Pepsi, not Coke. Diet Coke is insipid.

Tuesday Apr 25, 2006

Beyond the Java event Horizon(s)

Back in the old SeeBeyond days, we used to hold our annual users' group convention in Vegas every year at the Bellagio. We used to have some wild times. Jim Demetriades, our founder and CEO, started a great tradition of shooting craps with the customers, and even the odd employee. Since he would give them the chips to bet with, and let them keep their winnings, it was a great PR exercise. (Note to Jonathan....) Anyway, it may not be as wild, but this year the users' group event, known as Horizons, will be held in San Francisco just up the street from Java One! We've been in a flurry of activity here in Monrovia, honing presentations and generally getting ready. Yes, even the Unknown Product Manager will be presenting.

Besides Horizons, we will have a pod on the floor of Java One itself. Stop by and say hi, if you get the chance. No craps table, but friendly smiles all around. Check out the site for Horizons:

Friday Mar 24, 2006

A new release, a new era

They say you aren't really part of a new city until you've had a child born there, and the same is true for software. You aren't really part of Sun until your first release comes out. Our whole team of ex-SeeBeyonders is proud to have given birth TODAY to Sun Java Composite Application Platform Suite 5.1, the first release since we became part of Sun!

Our big boss, Dale Ferrario, sums it up far more eloquently in his blog.

Friday Mar 10, 2006

Time and change - II

They sent out an email today that the SeeBeyond signs on our building will be coming down over the next two weeks, to be replaced by Sun signs. They will be putting up temporary Sun banners until the Sun signs arrive. The banners are a good idea. Our building bears a striking resemblance to the Hotel Bellagio in Las Vegas, and I wouldn't want anyone to wander in and mistake a server for a slot machine.

Tuesday Jan 24, 2006

Time and change

I usually get a little melancholy as the light fades, and the spectacular mountain view behind Sun SeeBeyond's building turns reddish in the twilight. Today a couple of things happened that brought home to me that the old SeeBeyond is really gone. The movers were busy porting furniture and gear into available space in this building as we consolidate our other building down the street into this one. I guess this would have happened in any case, but the loss of some accounting and other behind-the-scenes people with the acquisition made it easier to bring off.

The other thing that happened was that they put out all the old SeeBeyond giveaways like shirts and coffee mugs for us to take home. There was a rush to grab corny shirts that no one would ever wear, maybe just to keep as mementoes of what once was.

Friday Jan 13, 2006

I, Luddite

At the old SeeBeyond, I was the patent coordinator. Over four years, I increased our portfolio of filed patent applications from three to 24. I was rather proud of this, but today I am turning the keys over to ... a robot. Yep, automation strikes again. Sun uses an online system in which any employee can submit a patent idea, which will then be evaluated by a Patent Review Committee for possible filing as a completed patent application. The system seems to work well, since Sun has thousands of issued patents, but it is a little disconcerting to see one of my major activities turned over to a web site.

Need to handle Asian encodings?

A few weeks ago I was made product manager for internationalization activities at Sun SeeBeyond, in addition to my regular eView Studio duties. I guess they think I don't have enough to do....;-)  Anyway, this is a fascinating area. For our products, it goes way beyond the normal Sun requirements of translating GUIs and online help screens into various languages. Since we are in the middleware game, what it means to us is the ability to handle messaging in weird double byte encodings like shift-JIS and Big5, as well as UTF-8, UTF-16 and other crazy stuff. Japanese EBCDIC, anyone? Pretty cool stuff, and actually only weird or crazy from my own narrow, ethnocentric view.

Sun is such a big company that sometimes we don't know all the great capabilities we have in-house. So if your customers have the need to communicate between applications using Asian encodings, we may be able to help.

Thursday Jan 12, 2006

Learning to speak Sun -- you say "tomato..."

As the product manager for eView Studio, I was reviewing documentation for our next release. A tiny little jarring note caught my eye. Throughout the User's Guide, we kept using the words "logon" and "logoff" to describe entering or leaving the application. Yet our opening screen says "login."  We're fortunate to have Carol Thom, one of the world's great doc people, as our eView doc manager. I asked her which was correct. She checked the (ahem) Microsoft Style Guide, which was the SeeBeyond standard. It said "logon" was correct. However, we're part of Sun now, so Carol checked the Sun Style Guide to see if there is a Sun standard. Sure enough, there is: "login"  and "logout." So it's search-and-replace time. "You say tomato...." Naturally, we've already changed to the Sun logos, legal notices, etc., but there's always something else to do!

Friday Nov 18, 2005

Big Boss Blogging!

This is way cool. Dale Ferrario, the senior executive who Sun sent to take over SeeBeyond development when Sun bought us, has started a blog! More evidence that Sun is the kind of collegial, open environment that is great to work in. Awesome.



Tuesday Nov 15, 2005

Saved by Human Factors!

Once again, the Human Factors guys have saved my bacon. This time it was Leon Barnard, who not only is a guru of accessibility, but also a veritable HTML maven. You may have noticed that my title bar was looking weird for a couple of days as I tried vainly to figure out how to position my photo without the site looking like a Soviet passport. Anyhow, Leon diagnosed the problem in a few seconds, and I am now back in the realm of aesthetic sensibility.

By the way, Leon has a very slick, very cool web site where he runs his own blog, photo journal, and music reviews. Check it out! Besides Leon, the Sun SeeBeyond Human Factors team consists of Dr. Gary Olasci, whom I have mentioned before, Loren Mack (the boss, and deservedly so), and our newbie, Allison Perez, who in addition to her talents in Human Factors, holds the distinction of being the first person in Monrovia on the Sun payroll, since she was hired after the acquisition. The rest of us are still on SeeBeyond paychecks until the end of the year.

Saturday Nov 05, 2005

Sun SeeBeyond Products - eGate (TM) Integrator

I promised earlier that I would continue to talk about each of the SeeBeyond products that now make up the Sun Java Integration Suite. Here goes! Flame on!

Let's talk about the Big One: Sun SeeBeyond® eGate™ Integrator. This is the platform on which the whole suite runs.

Here's a list of its sterling qualities:

--Fully J2EE certified and Web services-based, distributed integration platform.

--Provides comprehensive systems connectivity, guaranteed messaging and robust transformation capabilities.

--Provides a unified, single sign-on environment for integration development, deployment, monitoring and management.

--Supports portability of integrations across common J2EE application servers through a completely open, J2EE-certified and Web services-based architecture.

You can hear a bit of market-speak in the above, since I'm lifting some phrasing from our marketing literature, but it's all true. eGate Integrator was SeeBeyond's first major product. In its first incarnation it was known as DataGate, and even now there are a lot of DataGate installations still running. In the intervening years a lot of other products have been added to the Suite, but they all run on top of the eGate platform.The platform is based on a publish-subscribe model, which was the great conceptual advance over the earlier world of point-to-point integration solutions.

Three important terms for you to know:

--The Repository. This is the heart, the store of information about all the deployed integration components. It's important to remember that another of eGate Integrator's great innovations was its distributed architecture. You can distribute the pieces over as many logical and physical hosts as make sense for your setup. The Repository keeps track of them all. 

--Enterprise Manager. This is the browser-based tool for managing all the components of the the run-time environment, as well as installing and updating all Suite components.

--Enterprise Designer. This is where you hook everything together. It's a fantastic drag-and-drop IDE where you integrate systems and develop composite applications using Web services.

I really can't do justice to eGate Integrator in a short blog entry. Hundreds and hundreds of person-years have gone into its development, and it really is the gold standard of integration products. One book I would encourage you to get: the Sun SeeBeyond Java Integration Suite Primer (formerly known as the SeeBeyond ICAN Suite Primer). SeeBeyond produced some of the best documentation I have ever seen, and this book is a terrific summary of the whole suite, with chapters of 10-20 pages on each product. It's a great way to start getting up to speed on the whole Java Integration Suite.




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