Tuesday Jan 02, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth is trully an inconvenience...

Happy new year every one! I just got back from a great holiday break. I spent most of the break in Kitzbühel, Austria for a family holiday. Kitzbühel is a great little town and is a great place to ski. Well, normally it is a great place to ski. This year it has been far too warm for it to be good skiing.

If you have not seen An Inconvenient Truth yet, you should. The documentary stars former US Vice-President Al Gore and focuses on the impact of global warming. I consider myself a rather scientific person which usually means that I like to see as much evidence and data as possible before I form an opinion. I do realize that facts and data can be twisted to present whatever perception the author intends, much like the book State of Fear from Michael Crichton. However, I don't think anyone can really argue with reality. The reality is that the Alps is having its warmest year in over 1300 years, which of course means a total lack of snow.

Yes it was an inconvenience for my skiing trip, but that is nothing to what it could mean for everyone in the not too distant future. I am not trying wave my arms and say we are all doomed, but the debate over the years about global warming is becoming less of a debate and more of a simple reality.

As a fan of winter sports I would really hate to see places like Kitzbühel be turned into the next Flint, Michigan. The only difference would seem that Flint was ruined by a single industry vs. potentially ruining a planet by an entire species. Argue what you want, but I don't think that less pollution would be a bad thing, would it?

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Monday Dec 18, 2006

First DE in Prague...

I have great news for you. Today is a rather significant day. Trung Duc Tran was promoted to a Distinguished Engineer (DE)! Why is this significant? Beyond the fact that Trung is the chief architect of NetBeans and has been driving the technical vision of that incredible product for a long time, he is also the first DE to be named in our Prague Engineering Center.

The technical leadership at Sun has been working for some time to increase the international (outside the US and for that matter California) leadership around the world. It may seem like a small victory for Trung to be named a DE but it is a great step forward in developing and recognizing our international technical leadership.

Congratulations to Trung!

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Tuesday Dec 05, 2006

Ciao, Sun Ray!

Yesterday I flew into Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport to meet with our Italian team of Systems Engineers and Giacomo Tufano, the Italian SE manager. The flight was fine, no issues. I did however get a surprise when I had to pass through customs. No this is not another story about how travel went bad, rather when I handed my passport to the customs officer, I noticed something familiar.

That is right, they are using Sun Ray Virtual Display Clients! What better way for a security focused organization to be more secure. And at the same time they don't need to deal with the desk clutter, heat and noise that a PC would generate. Perfect!

So hats off to Polaria (Italian Airport Police Division). Glad to see that once again the Italians lead in what is fashionable, sleek and fast!

...and for those that thought I had enough guts to take a picture in the customs area, well you are wrong. When I made it to the office I asked Giacomo about the Sun Ray solution we provided and asked if they had any pictures...

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Wednesday Nov 29, 2006

Jersey Girl or Girl Jersey?

Remember way back in late September, just before CEC? In particular there was a post by our GSE Diva's about a special give away. The contest was to find and identify the Diva's at our October Customer Engineering Conference. The first person to find them would win a special sweat shirt / Jersey. At CEC I ran into the Diva's near the end of the conference but I still asked, "did I win?" The answer was clearly "no".

Well the Diva's did not let me down. A special package arrived for me in Prague. As you can see from the photo, I now have my very own "Jersey Girl" jersey! Thanks Diva's!

Also pictured here with me is Susan McMynn wearing the latest in transgender New Jersey fasion; a Jersey Boy baseball cap. Susan is the manager of our Customer Engineering Programs group and happened to be in Prague for some meetings in time to model the goods from the Diva's.

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Wednesday Nov 22, 2006

10 Cities, 6 Weeks until Skiing...

I am in Madrid today. I am in the middle of a push to visit all of our EMEA markets by the end of the calendar year. In most cases I am meeting with the local teams, reviewing the business and understanding where we need to invest from a technical skills perspective. Do we have the right technical skills? Are we serving our customers is the best way possible? Are we balancing our capabilities between the technology and products of today vs. driving adoption for the technologies that will power the future? These are the questions that keep me up at night. Well that and I usually read my email late at night.

Here is my schedule:

  • Week of Nov. 13th in California for leadership meeting and Colorado for Customer Engineering Meeting
  • Week of Nov. 20th in Birmingham, England for EMEA Operations reviews, in Madrid for Iberia Systems Engineering review
  • Week of Nov. 27th in Paris for France Systems Engineering review and my staff meeting
  • Week of Dec. 4th in Rome for Italy Systems Engineering review
  • Week of Dec. 11th in Stockholm for Central and Northern Europe Systems Engineering review and then to California for a Customer Engineering Programs review and Team CTO meeting
  • Week of Dec. 18th in Munich for Germany Systems Engineering Review and Peter Ryan's staff meeting

So in a few weeks time and ten cities, I will be on my way to Austria for a needed holiday break. Some skiing, family time and rest.

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Wednesday Nov 15, 2006

Leadership and Dirtbikes

This week I attended our SMI leadership meeting in California. Now I could go on about all the positive things going on in Sun and how we are growing, have great technology and great customers, but I'm not going to. Rather I though what I would talk about briefly is what followed our leadership meeting. After my time in California, I got to take a mini-vacation and spend some time with my buddies doing what I love, riding dirt bikes.

Yes I got to spend a couple of days in and around Moab in Utah. The picture is me, really. I am riding along the slick rock trail in Moab. The other is Tom Berghoff and I at the head of the Hell's Revenge trail. The weather was great and it was not crowded at all. Great fun!

It was great to get away, relax, ride and then moan at night and the next mornings about the aches and pains.

Ohh and in case there are any riding fanatics out there, I ride a '04 KTM 300 EXC. Got to love the Austrians!

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Thursday Nov 09, 2006

Are you an immigrant?

I got to spend a few days in Cannes this week at the most famous event held each year in this great city. Well, OK, maybe it is not the most famous event held here, but it should be at least in the top 10. ...or 100. I attended the annual Gartner Symposium/ITExpo.

I had the chance to sit down and chat with a number of Gartner analysts to chat about Sun, technology and our industry. It is great to hear so many different perspectives, some that are in line with my thinking, some that needed a bit more convincing and some that needed have their "reset" button pushed. ;-) Two long days of interviews, meetings with customers and attending sessions and keynotes.

One of the keynotes that I enjoyed quite a bit was delivered by Peter Sondergaard. Peter is the SVP in charge of Research at Gartner. Peter talked about consumer driven IT and the "consumerization of IT". His main point was that more and more end users are influencing IT direction and playing a bigger part of deciding what is important. This is a fundamental shift that Peter sees, and I believe it to be 100% inline with some of the discussions I have had in the past year with CIOs and our customers.

Fundamentally users want more. More bandwidth, faster processing, more storage, etc. This is not so much different then the past, but the demand seems to be growing. Do you plan to store any less photos? Listen to any less music? The difference I believe is that users are becoming more and more aware of technology and its implications on their day to day lives. Ask any teenager. You will find that most teens have already integrated technology into their lives, from their mobile phones, to their community groups, blogs and instant messaging accounts. Proof is in one of the data points that Peter mentioned: 89% of teens use search as their first source of information. Mark Prensky (I believe the first to claim the term) called these people "Digital Natives". The opposite of this is the Digital Immigrants. I am a Digital Immigrant. Most likely you are as well, unless you are some teenager up at 3AM with nothing better to read then an immigrants blog. ;-)

I found many similarities between Peter's talk, Prensky's ideas and Sun's mission to create the technologies and fuel the communities that power the Participation Age. I am glad to see that others have caught on the these ideas as well. We are all playing our part in a much larger global stage, where by participation we all begin to close the huge gap in the global digital divide.

So all you Digital Immigrants, get out there and get to know the Natives and let's see if we can continue to drive the direction of our technology future.

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Thursday Oct 26, 2006

Stick a fork in it...

Interesting news today from Oracle. Oracle plans to "fork" Red Hat and beat them at their own game by offering better/cheeper support. Oracle is not the first to do this to Red Hat, but I believe they have more money then the others to make it work. If nothing else this sure does make the Linux/RHEL market appear more fragmented. Red Hat dismissed the news.

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Good to Grow!

Big props to the entire Sun team! It feels good to continue in our third consecutive quarter of double digit growth.

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Whisky, golf and big servers...

Scotland is known for a number of things, golf and whisky come to mind, but did you know that some of our biggest and baddest servers are manufactured there? Linlithgow is home to our European manufacturing site. Many things have been manufactured here in the past, but now is focused on the big stuff. In addition to the manufacturing, Linlithgow also hosts one of our remote managed services centers, Customer Ready Systems integration center and Sun Solution Center. Some fantastic capabilities all in one place.

I was impressed with my visit and plan to leverage the capabilities a lot more in the future. Especially if I can get a round in and sample a dram or two...

If you want to know what the EMEA team looks like, take a look. No, we don't always wear the cool blue coats and static straps. Left to Right: Andy Coussins, David Palk, Pilar Torres, Steve Furniss, Sue Oliva, Wolf Frenkel, Peter Ryan, Me, Susan Ferguson, Luc Opdebeeck, Lieve Jacobs, Graham Steven

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Friday Oct 20, 2006

HR 2.0

I have to point out that I have a very hip and web 2.0 HR business partner. I know, most of you are wondering just how can HR be hip and know anything about social networking. I recently have been working with an HR partner in EMEA focusing on the Systems Engineering organization. That HR partner is Volker Seubert.

The first sign of his social engineering coolness was the fact that he was able to update a wiki page about our orgnization that we have inside of Sun. We call it CEpedia, as in Customer Engineering-pedia. Not that updating a wiki is a big deal, but on the other hand I don't see a lot of the support functions trying to find ways to contribute via web 2.0 mechanisms. Score 1 for Volker.

Second Volker decided it was time to join the blog-o-sphere. He created a blog. Very cool. Score 2 for Volker!

And as Volker says in his first blog, we are in the process of refactoring our HR processes and organization. It has not been easy, but if the payoff is having someone like Volker focus on our business, then it is all worth it. In fact, it is great to have a HR partner that is really trying to support and understand the orgs direction and strategy and not just take on the catbert role. Score another for a hat trick!

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Blog mashup...

I had a bit of a blog mashup happen this week. First I will refer back to a recent blog I did about networks and their impact on the future of the iPod. I should note at this point that someone pointed out to me that Greg P. had done a similar blog about networks and iPods about a year ago. I think this sufficiently proves that Greg stays ahead of everyone. Well at least me.

The second blog was a recent entry by the Mobile Technology guys who posted an interview I did about becoming the Sun technical executive sponsor for Vodafone. A notification email was sent to me informing me that the interview had been published and that I should check out a new service that Vodafone is delivering.

The mashup here is the Vodafone reference and the iPod blog. You see, Vodafone already has a music service that utilizes mobile networks. Check out Radio DJ. I wish I could always be so prophetic. And believe me, I had no knowledge of Greg's post (although I should have) or the Vodafone service.

In any case, I am happy to say that I am excited to join the Sun/Vodafone team!

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Wednesday Oct 18, 2006

A Shining Star close to Sun...

This week I found myself in London again presenting at a users conference. I like user gatherings. It is always a great chance to talk with people who are real users of technology and since they took time out of their schedule to attend a conference, they are usually pretty passionate about their jobs and the tools they use. This was not a Sun conference, rather one of our partners. It was the Proxima Technology's user conference. Proxima has a great product called Centauri which is essentially a piece of software that has the capability to turn data into information. We all know that there is too much data in the world and not enough information. Meaning that it is often hard to answer real questions with existing data.

If you could wake up and have a dashboard that gave you real insight into your world/buiness, what would be on it? That seems to be the first question the folks at Proxima ask. The point being, we should be able to measure real business processes and value in ways that business folks can understand, by using data sources, telemetry, etc that already exist.

I was speaking on the subject of "IT as a Service". The trends and activities taking place in our industry that are moving in the direction of expressing almost everything as a service. Be it software, computing capability, storage, etc - all moving in the direction of a service.

The names Proxima have chosen for their company and their product are rather interesting. If you don't know, Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the sun. Which is interesting as Proxima is a great partner of Sun. Coincidence? You decide...

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Thursday Oct 12, 2006

Will networks kill the iPod?

Today I sat through a number of account reviews as part of our sales academy training in London. One of the sessions focused on IP based media got me thinking about my iPod. First let me say I love taking my digital content (pictures, movies, music) with me on my travels and therefore love my video iPod. But the iPod for all intents and purposes is the equivalent of a bloated PC. It can only serve up content that is installed locally. Sure the basic iPod model is a cache of a larger master library. But why do I need a cache when networks are becoming more and more pervasive? Is the iPod betting against the network? If so, it is sure to die (in its current form).

I can see a time when either the iPod (and its equivalents) will be "thin" or will die. Thin in the sense that they will leverage the network to deliver digital content in real time. Video, audio, you name it. IPTV is on the rise. 3G networks are being put in place around the world. And WiFi is getting almost as pervasive as coffee bars and drinking fountains. Knowing this, will todays mobile phone become the iPod, PDA, phone, all in one device that some folks are predicting? I think so. Just as Sun has never shipped a product without networking being intrinsic to the offering, mobile phones have always assumed the network. They have to, if they didn't they won't be mobile now would they? Sure the devices will need a cache so content would still be available when, by the odd chance, a network is not available. But if you start with the assumption that the network will be there, it really does open new possibilities in taking your content everywhere. Or maybe better said, being able to leave your content anywhere and at the same time using it from everywhere.

Time will tell, but I for one will would never bet against the network...

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Wednesday Oct 11, 2006

Still smart in the UK...

It is late and I am tired but I have to say that I am still energized. I am spending a few days in the UK this week. I just spent the day with some people that made my week. Well I spent half a day, the other part (morning) was spent traveling from Prague to our London city office. Flight to LHR - check. Express train from Heathrow to Paddington - check. Change trains in Paddington to the Circle line - check. Get on wrong train and go in wrong direction because I am on the phone and not paying attention - check. Get on right train but then have it go out of service two stops later - check. Get on another train and have it go out of service two stops from Monument - check. Get taxi and make it to the office 20 minutes late - check.

Let met get to the fun part. I spent time with the leader of our UK Systems Engineering organization (Greg Nolan - note to Greg - start blogging!) and a number of folks on his team. We spent the time reviewing the plans and progress of the Systems Engineering team and what challenges we face moving forward. What impressed me was how upbeat, engaged and how truly customer focused the team was. Momentum is growing and we continue to grow our Systems Engineers who have the unique ability to understand our customers business issues and bring Sun's wealth of innovation, technologies and knowhow to the table.

I then got to meet with a select group of people at Sun. I met with a number of the Principal Engineers that are based in the UK. Bit of background: a Principal Engineer at Sun is senior customer engineer that has demonstrated significant skills and strength in a given technology area and has engaged and shared their knowledge with different communities (customers, peers, product engineering, industry, etc). Simply put, they are our best and brightest. They are not just experts in their domain but have also demonstrated that they know how to engage others, share what they know and mentor others. Ohh and did I mention that in order to become a Principal Engineer you must pass a peer review of existing Principal Engineers?

The great thing about our meeting was that we didn't really spend much time talking about issues, we just had a great chat about technology and the direction of our top engineering talent. I love it when I can just hang with really bright people and have a geekfest session on a broad range of topics. Thanks guys. I really did appreciate your time.

Then I was off to have a curry with Dave Levy. Dave is one our the Principal Engineers mentioned above and all around social networking guru. I had a bunch of questions about blogging, tagging and the future of social networking. Don't forget to send me the link to the book you are reading Dave, I would like to give it a read. Beyond social networking we chatted about consulting service models, value engineering and technology issues impacting EMEA.

Good food, good company, good night.

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