Monday Jun 15, 2009

Green Recovery!

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to talk with Andrew S. Winston, the author of Green to Gold.  I met Andrew when he presented at Dave Douglas's 2008 Eco Summit in Santa Clara, CA and we had stayed in contact. Andrew was undertaking a new project and wanted input about Data Centers for one of the sections. 

Green Recovery focuses on how companies can use environmental thinking to survive hard economic times and position themselves for growth and advantage when the downturn ends.  One core focus is on getting lean -- taking action in five key areas of the business that can yield quick payback and high ROI.  Andrew recently put out a free report, Green Cost Cutting, that includes the introduction from the new book and the chapter "Get Lean".  The purpose of releasing the content early is to put out some of the tactical, short-term ideas as soon as possible so companies can employ them quickly. 

Andrew was gracious enough to include quotes from myself and Subodh Bapat. You can pre-order a copy through Amazon. You can download the free excerpt (introduction and the chapter "Get Lean") here

You can reach Andrew through the following:

Twitter: GreenAdvantage 
Facebook: Andrew S Winston 
Email: andrew-AT-eco-strategies-DOT-com 



Sunday May 03, 2009

Innovation Matters, What's Cool in Datacenters

Late last year I had a fun conversation on Greg Papadopolous show, Innovation Matters.  This show was targeted for Sun Internal, but there was quite a bit of interest to share it externally.  So on February 14th, it was shared on We are very transparent when it comes to the work we do, and we want our customers to benefit from it.   So enjoy the segment Greg titled, What's Cool in Datacenters.

Monday Mar 16, 2009

Speak to me!

It has been waaaay too long since I have had a chance to blog.  The last five months have been a whirlwind of activity internally and externally.  My goal was to post items as they happened, but by the time I finish the daily priorities, it's 2am and my body shuts me down anways.

So, my new goal is to post the activities that are relevant and interesting as I can, but not necessarily within the week the or in chronological order.  The blog will have the topics I believe my peers and others in the industry would take their valuable time to read.

With that, I'm leaving for my Europe trip on Wedensday.  I'll be speaking at the Invest In Sweden Data Center conference in Stockholm, Sweden on Friday March 20th.  Then I'll be speaking at the Computing in High Energy and Nuclear Physics (CHEP) conference in Prague on Tuesday, March 24th.  Finally, I'm heading to CERN in Geneva, Switzerland to talk and tour with the folks at the International Linear Collider!  I'm hoping that they can show me that cool black hole everyone's been raving about.  It's supposed to be all the rage...Doh!  :-)

Friday Nov 14, 2008

This puppy's growing!

I am still amazed with how quickly you can reach a global audience. It's been 61 days since we started Data Center Pulse.  Since then we have secured 312 members from 180 companies in 21 countries representing at least 20 different industries! The member list is growing like mad.

As Mark and I continued to recruit members a realization set in. The list of companies that are represented on Data Center Pulse are from every industry. This group spends or influences hundreds of billions of dollars every year. They build the engines that run banking, medical support systems, schools, military, government, transportation systems, and this little thing called the internet. :-)  Over the weekend we brainstormed how to best leverage the strength of this group. What is it that most of the people are interested in? What would be worth their time? Personally, I benefit greatly when I am able to sit down for detailed discussions and debate on Data Center topics with my peers in the industry. I really enjoyed the round table we held at the AFCOM session and wished there could be more.

So, Mark and I decided to take the next step.  We want to get this community together for a face to face working session.  The goal is to discuss and debate the top 10 topics that are on the minds of these owners and operators.  What are those topics? We want the community to decide.  Who will lead these discussions?  We want the leaders to be selected from the community. What will we do with this information? The topic leaders will present it out to the industry. What will the next steps be? The community will decide. In other words, the Data Center Pulse members will create the agenda, content, output and followup for this summit. When we harness the knowledge and experience of this group along with the challenges they face, some very useful information will be generated. Wouldn't you like to know what's on the mind of your customers? What they want?  What they need?  With this summit, you will get it directly from the horses mouth. 

Data Center Pulse Summit 

On February 17-18, 2009 we will host the first Data Center Pulse Summit in Northern California. You can read more about this event through the latest blog entry.

Keep in mind, that this is an invitation only event for Data Center Pulse members. But, anyone in the industry can submit topic ideas through this survey to be considered for the different tracks. We have also partnered with the AFCOM Northern California Chapter to host the read-out of the topic findings immediately following the event (February 18, 2009).  We have also partnered with Teladata to have the output of these 10 topics discussed at round tables at their Technology Convergence conference the following day (February 19, 2009).  

We have high hopes for this summit and would appreciate your input. Feel free to email with any suggestions.

Sunday Oct 21, 2007


Sean Connellan
March 8, 1945 - October 17, 2007

On October 17, 2007 Sean Connellan passed away after bravely battling cancer for almost two years. Sean was the Senior Vice President of Workplace Resources at Sun Microsystems, my boss, my mentor, and my friend. I knew Sean for only 25 months, and worked directly for him for 12 months, but it felt like I knew him much longer. I was blessed to have spent such valuable & precious time with him, and absorb so much. He was a tough, old school leader that really cared about his job, his people and the mark that he left. His character and values resonated with me.

I attended Sean's wake and funeral 10/19-20 in Rochester, New York. I live in Northern California, but made sure to be there to see Sean off to his next journey. I wasn't sure how this was going to go, and if I was going to hold my composure through this. It was hard to believe that he was gone. Just two weeks before, I had called him for our regular on one one and he shared with me that he had 90 days to live. I was floored. I didn't know how to feel, how to respond, what to do. I felt helpless. Like the true professional that he was, he wanted his house clean and to leave on his terms. Over the next few weeks I tried to grapple with the enormity of this. I must have started and modified a letter to him fifty times. It was very difficult to put into words what someone like that meant to you. I finally finished the letter on Monday, October 16, 2007, printed it and planned to overnight it to him in the morning. As I was drivig to work, I got the call that Sean had passed away at 1am Eastern Time. Almost exactly when I had finished the letter. I was saddened that he would not get to read this letter, but I knew that he already knew. I had been very open with him over the time I worked for him, and told him how much I valued his insight and straight forward honesty. He took it upon himself to mentor me. I decided to bring the letter to share with his family at the funeral.

At the wake on Friday, I met a number of Sean's family members from Ireland and around the US. Although I had never met Sean's wife, son and daughter, I had heard about them over the two years that I knew him. And, as expected they were just as accommodating, caring and rock solid as Sean. It was difficult to get the words out, but they helped me through it. As I talked with different friends and family at the funeral home, I realized something. Sean was blessed at the end of his life to have time. He had said to his kids not to be sad, because he could have been hit by a bus or had a heart attack and not had the chance to say goodbye. He spent the last two weeks of his life surrounded by his family and friends. He received many letters from people throughout his life, telling him what he meant to them. Two of these letters made him extremly proud. Our CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, and CFO, Mike Lehman, took the time to write to Sean. Sean beamed with pride when those letters were read. It meant so much to him to achieve operational excellence. His work mantra was to leave the job better than it was when he came, make a difference in who he worked with, leave his mark, hope he'd be missed, and make a little money along the way. And boy, did he accomplish that.

A number of my colleagues and management also attended Sean's funeral. This included Bill MacGowan, the Executive Vice President of Sun's People and Places division. He was Sean's boss. Bill shared how Sean had turned Workplace Resources around. In less than two years, it became one of the highest performing business units at Sun. The Recommend Sun Index (RSI) had risen from the lowest in the company to the highest. This was all due to Sean's leadership. He built an incredible team that, as he put it, gets along, likes each other and exemplifies the characteristics of operational excellence. This team was able to execute projects in excess of $250M to consolidate real estate including people space, lab space and datacenter space in 12 months. These efforts helped Sun beat their FY07 4% operating margin target. They achieved 8.4%.

My personal experience with Sean was very similar. He was a true mentor that was not shy about telling me what I did wrong and what I did right. He was tough, very tough...a curmudgeon at times, but always fair and supportive. His approach to leadership was to build loyalty to the cause and to the team. He treated everyone in his team as family and drove them for excellence. He expected you to deliver and held you to your promises. If you could not do that, then he said you should find a job that drives you to do it. He wanted everyone to have a real job, and feel good about their work and their contributions to the the company. These basic principals have been lost to many companies. Hand shakes have become a thing of the past. Everyone worries about covering their butts and looking out for number one. Leaders such as Sean have taught me a number of things throughout my career. The relationships you build are what last. So, treat others as you would want to be treated. Never look or talk down to someone, because you never know where they will come back into your life. Remember where you came from and strive for humility. Never take yourself too seriously, and always put family first.

As I end this trip to the east coast, I reflect on a few things. What will people say at my funeral? What difference will I have made? What mark will I have left? Will the people who have worked for me compliment or curse me? I have and will continue to strive for excellence in business and in life. I hope to live up to the example that Sean has set.

    May the roads rise with you,
    May the wind always be at your back,
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    And rains fall soft upon your fields,
    And until we meet again,
    May God keep you in the hollow of His hand.

Thank you for your insight and mentoring. You will be missed Sean.

Monday Sep 10, 2007

Taking the Plunge

Well, it's been a long time coming. I finally have take the jump into the blogsphere! Being a geek for so many years, it's amazing I haven't taken the three and a half minutes to register and get started.

So, officially I can now say, "Hello World".


Gig: GDS Director
Global Lab & Datacenter Design Services, Sun Microsyste


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