Customer Engineering Conference Day Zero

I'll admit the truth: I was blogging about our pre-show activities at our Customer Engineering Conference and ended up writing notes for my opening talk, hanging out with our engineers, and going out for dinner rather than posting it. Consider this an off-by-one error: I was blogging about CEC day zero but effecting it on day one. Or else it was a by-product of finding a sign (literally).

6:00 AM. I am probably one of a dozen people who saw the sun come up after a reasonable night's sleep. Show walk-through and final schedule check at 6:30 AM.

8:00 AM. Principal Engineer meeting to discuss changes in our technical career ladders and how we differentiate leadership, influence and "size of the job" from technical contribution, work product and engineering excellence. The challenge I raised to this group of technical experts: think about our user interfaces. This isn't about programming interfaces or developer contracts; it's about the social contract for working with other groups of engineers across Sun, with our customers, our partners and the technical community at large. At least once a quarter, someone surfaces the notion that Sun needs a product with consumer cache (I'd call it the i-cache but the processor guys would object). I'll argue that we have already have an asset that drives the social and cultural attractiveness of our company: it's our engineering corps. We just need to make sure the user interface is attractive, easy to use, and stimulates more interaction and use.

9:00 AM. Global Sales and Services Management meeting. A variation of the same talk, but from the other side of the manager's desk. At last year's CEC, we introduced cepedia, a MediaWiki based community-driven engineering repository. But there's a huge different between a place to share and publish vanity content, and leveraging the vanity (in a good way) to build communities of technical experts. We are going to move away from the quarter-century old Sun model of having email aliases for every activity. Our goal: let communities self-form, self-regulate and drive collaboration at the pace of Facebook, where (for example) our in-house icon Patrik Elias has his own online church as a function of his goal-scoring.

2:00 PM. Brief stop in with the Chief Technologists, the folks charged with the fan-out of our technical strategy, industry ideas and community building across the field.

3:00 PM. Ambassador meeting. Ambassadors are the stewards of the engineering-field relationship, and part of my job is to provide logistical and editorial content support for them.

4:00 PM. Rehearsal for the main tent opening. w00t. Being the curious and hyperactive, caffeinated adult that I am, I walked into the adjoining mass-seating meal room. And lo and behold, there's a Blackbox in the room, on the trailer, with the tractor attached for the fully mobile data center effect. I've given tours of the Blackbox before, but I've never checked out the truck part. So I hopped into the cab, and gave serious thought to firing up the diesel (I do have a Zamboni driver's license, after all). Then I realized that without any clue how to handle a 15-forward speed transmission, the possibility of accidentally driving through a wall and into the stage set was quite large.

5:00 PM. The Yankees win, or at least get closer. So much for the power nap. Blog entry was supposed to go here, but life intervened.

And now back to our live program....

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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