Sun: Network is the Company



While travelling by public transport I have a lot of time to think - not sure if this is good or bad. Anyway, I came to several interesting (although imperfect) analogies. Sun differs from other companies I know in how communication is handeled - it reminds me of some of the network principles I was tought at school.

  • Mailling lists - you can find mailling lists for possible and even impossible topics. So instead using a 1-to-1 or 1-to-several communication strategy a more network-like communication is our daily bread.
    Analogy: Communication 1-to-many nodes in a network

  • Knowledge bases - if you want to get some information you can drop your question into one of the many mailling lists and you can be sure that you will get a relevant answer from a person who knows a lot about the subject.
    Analogy: Neural networks used for data mining.

  • Accessibility - everybody in Sun is accessible, no matter if it's the COO or some person working on the other side of the planet.
    Analogy: Node accessibility in large multi-processor networks

  • Blogging - more than 1000 people in Sun are blogging, a much larger number of employees is reading the blogs. Similarly to mailling lists, only with much larger audience from both inside and outside the company.
    Analogy: Communication 1-to-many nodes in a network

  • Location independence - if you submit a request to fix your workstation it may be processed in Holland. Or you might get a phone call from an engineer in India. Or depending on a request a local person may come.
    Analogy: TCP/IP communication and load ballancing

  • Speed and throughput - you will most probably find the answer to your question fast. The amounts of e-mails and other communication are very high.
    Analogy: speed and throughput are important parameters of all networks

Networks have a nice characteristics - for networks it's 3 + 3 = 9. So if our company has more network-like attributes than other companies, we should be doing better products with less resources.

What's the conclusion from this post? I should probably spend less time in the public transport :-)
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Roman Strobl

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