CEC 2006 - Day 1 (Monday, October 2nd)

Monday should have begun with my alarm going off at 6AM. Instead I popped awake at 5:55AM (got to love a finely tuned biological clock). In no time I was all packed up and meeting my "handler" in the lobby at 6:45AM for the start of Day 1. What is a handler? Well for an event like this that has a packed schedule, meetings and time lines that can't slip, the handlers job is to make sure you get where you need to be on time and that you are prepared when you get there. In my case, Inka Havlova (who is normally my exec assistant) took on the role of handler. Which by the way is not an easy job.

7AM at Moscone was the rehearsal for Don Grantham (EVP Global Sales and Service) which included his practice staff. It was also the time to get mic'ed up and the fitting of the dreaded IFB. The microphones where nice, those lightweight boom types that sit on your ear and and the boom extends almost down to your mouth. In the other ear was the IFB. The problem with the IFB is that the communication is really only one way. They can tell you something but you can't really say anything back. That is unless they say something like "confirm but scratching your left ear". So for those that may have wondered why I seem to "itch" a lot or was nodding, smiling or laughing at times that just didn't seem appropriate, it was most likely due to the IFB and the folks back stage making life just a little bit more exciting for me on stage.

Backstage is an interesting place to be at an event like this. There is lots going on, but everyone has their job to do. The video crew is focused on what you see and what you are going to see next. The audio crew is focused on what you hear and who you may hear from next. The interactive crew is manning the computers ready to collect the questions and comments coming in. The content folks are making sure you are not making last minute changes (which we tended to do quite a bit). And then there is the person that I call the "gate keeper". This is the person who decides who goes on stage when. Her job is to make sure you are in your position when you need to be for the exact time you should begin the walk to the front of the stage.

8AM and the show starts. Jim and I take the stage and kick off CEC 2006. I have to say, I was a little nervous, not for speaking to a large crowd (I have done that before), but rather I was nervous for the event to be a success. We were trying a bunch of new ideas this year and putting it all on the line at a time when value per OPEX dollar spent must be near an all time high.

Jim and I reviewed the conference themes: The Geeks are Back - The recommitment to engineering talent in the customer facing organizations. Jim and I highlighted this theme at one point by donning our propeller hats. The other key messages for the conference were Join the Team. Join the new Customer Engineering team in GSS. This is the first time in Sun's history that we have a single unified customer engineering organization. This includes folks from Systems Engineering, the four technology Practices (Software, Storage, Systems, Services) and Global Customer Services. We are now one single org and can now truly be part of a single team with a single goal (more on that in a bit). Tell the Story was the second message. We have a story to tell. Our vision, mission and values are clearer now then they have ever been. Our strategy is strong and clear. And our products, technologies and offerings are the best they have ever been. We are taking back market share, winning back critical customers and gaining mind share in the open source and developer communities. The last message is the key. Inspire and Thrill. If you are not inspired about Sun and our future then, get inspired. If you are having trouble getting inspired then you are not spending enough time with our customers, because they get it and understand that we have a lot to be proud of and excited about. And of course the goal of all goals is to Thrill our customers. If you join our team and tell Sun's story, you will get inspired and can then direct your energy at absolutely thrilling our customers. Man, I feel good just writing this down.

After Jim and I left the stage, Greg Papadopoulos took the stage and walking through his technological views. Later Greg was joined by four of my peers from Greg's CTO staff, Mike Splain, Bob Brewin, Jeff Bonwick and Tim Marsland. John Fowler then took the stage and reviewed our Systems business.

Then about noon it was a rap of the day one general sessions. It was time to get unplugged (mics and IFB) and grab a quick lunch. Did I mention that the interactive technology worked perfectly? It was great. We had lots of folks sending in all forms of communications (email, IM, SMS). The team was able to aggregate the questions and comments, removing duplicates, test messages, etc and forward to me on stage. Jim was orchestrating all of this with the team back stage. It really worked well. In fact to show how dynamic and two way the conversation was, at one point a number of people sent messages asking if we could switch the slide view from one side of the stage to the other. See we had two large displays, one on each side of the stage. The video of the speaker on stage was being placed on one screen and the content they were presenting was on another. So for folks sitting to one side or the other they were either able to see the speaker or the content but not both. We took the requests coming in from a number of people and passed it to the video booth. The video guys were able to switch the video and content back and forth so people on both sides could see everything. A few minutes later we started getting messages again saying "thank you". The wisdom of the "crowd" was actually controlling the production of the show. Very Cool.

At 1PM Jim and I were off to meet with a number of GENO (Global ENgineering Organizations) engineers from our R&D sites in Russia, China, India and the Czech Republic. We were joined by Greg as well. We talking about how things were going and what else we could do to ensure our global engineers were getting what they needed to be successful. Of course I have some affinity to the GENO folks as I am currently stationed at one of our GENO sites in the Czech Republic. It was a good meeting and it was great to see a number of our awesome engineering from around the world. I hope next year we can invite even more to attend.

At 2PM it was back to the Moscone office to continue to work on content and such for Tuesday plus deal with all the other little things that come up at an event like this. About 6PM we head back to the hotel drop our stuff and then over to a gathering of Principal Engineers, Chief Technologists, etc at the Thirsty Bear. I think I only had one beer and talked to a number of people then back to the hotel. No dinner tonight. I am just too tired. I went back to Jim's room and we were to again work some details for Tuesday, but I nearly fell asleep in the first 5 minutes of discussion. I told Jim I was not of any value and that I needed some sleep. So we both decided that we would get up early and review then before we kicked off Day 2. I got to bed about 11PM... Nice.

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The idea with the IM/SMS/mail was really good one ...

Posted by Joerg Moellenkamp on October 07, 2006 at 02:30 PM CEST #

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