Wednesday Oct 10, 2007

SysNet Wins!

On Monday I posted a link to Dave Tong's video he put together about Coso (which will be Ops Center when it's released) for the CEC video blogging contest.  I'm sitting in the closing day Keynote right now and they just announced that Dave won the prize for best video.  Way to go Dave!


CEC Wrap Up

Today is the last day of CEC.  My team has pretty much completed all their contributions.  The gathering was a big success for us.  Our sessions were well extremely well attended (most were standing room only).  Also, we hosted a pavilion booth where we had hundreds of visitors come to get demonstrations of Sun Connection Satellite, as well as the new version of Sun Connection Inventory that will ship on October 18.  Here's a snap shot of the traffic at our booth.


Special thanks to Bob Lusk (in the middle of the picture above) for organizing our presence here.  I think the new relationships we built with Sales and Services will pay off big this year.


Wednesday Aug 15, 2007

Off to Boston

It's been way too long between blog entries.  Things have been really busy this month and I just haven't gotten to it.  I've also been spending part of my "Web 2.0" time playing in Facebook instead of blogging.  I'll have to blog about that later. 

Anyway, today I'm off to Boston for a set of meetings at Sun's campus there.  I'll be back this weekend.  Maybe I'll have time to write a blog entry on the plane! 

Thursday Jul 19, 2007

Emotional Software Design

Robert Scoble had a really cool entry over on his video blog about Emotional Software Design.  In this entry he interviews Nicole Lazzaro, founder of XEODesign.  Nicole talks passionately about how emotions interplay with user interfaces in games and consumer devices, but I'm sure it's true of any kind of software.  It's really interesting to watch the video and see the kind of terms she uses to describe how people interact with their iPhone.  I think there are lessons to be learned from that related to any kind of software.  Great software (and great interfaces) inspire their users on a level that goes beyond pure productivity increases.  Users love elegant software.

Our group here at Sun has been putting a great deal of work lately into improving our user interfaces, and I've been starting to see a few of the artifacts of that recently.  One easy to illustrate example is the fact that we've developed an improved look and feel for the Sun Connection Inventory channel that we will roll out in the coming weeks.  Over time, the look and feel of all the Sun Connection channels will converge on this look and eventually this will be the case for all our systems management products.

Just to give you a taste of what I'm talking about, here are two pictures of the same screen in the inventory channel.  One is taking from today's production system, and the other is taken from one of our dev systems running an pre-release version of the code.


 Old Look (click to zoom)





 New Look (click to zoom)

For me, I had a fairly visceral reaction to looking at the new screens.  They work the same (well, mostly), but feel totally different.  The old look now feels very closed in and limiting to me.  The new look feels much more open an inviting.  Perhaps we're taking our first steps into Emotional Systems Management!

BTW, you can spot a couple of new features in here if you look hard enough.  More on that later. :-)

Saturday Jun 23, 2007


Last week I had the chance to meet David Weekly.  He's the CEO of a startup called PBWiki and was nice enough to come over to Sun to meet with a couple of us to talk about how start up companies in the valley make technology decisions these days.  David was nice enough to offer that if I wanted to talk to more folks doing start ups I should come to SuperHappyDevHouse.  SuperHappyDevHouse is kind of a floating geek party, and they had an instance of it today at David's place.  There were over 100 folks here, most of them actively hacking and looking for other hackers to chat with -- either socially or to exchange ideas (or even recruit for their companies).

I drove over to David's house this evening and hung out for a bit.  I chatted for a while with a graphics programmer named Bruce.  He was working on a C++ template-based framework for ray tracing.  I think the last time I looked at a C++ source file was 1996, so I had to activate some very stale neurons.  In fact, I'd forgotten there are things like .h files.  I also talked for a while with a self-described QA Ninja who works at Apple.  She was quietly looking for more QA Ninjas to come work with her at Infinite Loop, but she was getting tired of people asking her questions about the iPhone, and Apple's ever increasing stock price (nice problem to have if you ask me).  For those of us who suffered through the Gil Amelio and Michael Spindler years it's quite amazing to see how things have turned around there. BTW, the Apple people I talked to at the party were quite psyched about ZFS.  I also spent a while chatting with a guy named Ming who's working on an Internet shopping site

It was fun to see what everyone was up to and talk to a number of different folks.  A lot of people asked me about Sun (after they found out I worked there).  I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that everyone has heard of Sun, but few really know what we do.  Ming was hugely surprised to find out that over 30,000 people work at Sun.  He asked me if most of them build computers and work on assembly lines?  Actually, a lot of them write software (and robots built a lot of the computers).  There are about 1,000 people on the team that create Solaris alone, and that's just a fraction of the software people at Sun.  We at Sun need to find more ways to tell the stories about all the interesting stuff we're building.

For those of you who didn't get a chance to attend.  Here's a one-minute tour just for fun.

David, thanks so much for the invitation.  I had a blast.

Tuesday Jun 12, 2007

Coverage of the Sun Connection Launch

Yesterday we launched the new Sun Connection Inventory Channel.  I was really happy with the press coverage we got.  There were three stories that were picked up by several outlets.

The first story is at eWeek. It was also picked up at CIO Insight, Baseline Magazine, and Channel Insider.

Another story at Information Week was also picked up at IT News.

Lastly, there was an article in IT Week that was also picked up by VNUNet, Channel Web and Computing.

This is great coverage for a new product like this.  Thanks to the team and built it, and special thanks to the marketing team for making the launch such a success!

Wednesday May 30, 2007

Don't Cross the Streams

I sometimes get accused of overusing a few strange expressions in my management style.  One of my favorites is telling people not to cross the streams.  Why don't you cross them?  Because, it would be bad.  Everyone knows the answer to that one, right?  Of course, in thinking about it, there are around 200 people in my group, about half of whom work outside the US and may have no idea what I'm talking about, so I thought I'd lay it out.

The expression comes from the movie Ghostbusters.  A comedy from the mid-80s -- and one of my favorite movies.  Here's the bit.  In the scene, our three heros are using their new Proton blasters to try and capture a ghost.  As they get started, the nerdiest Ghostbuster stops the action and gives them a warning.

Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

So, what does this have to do with managing software projects?  The answer is that I've long seen a tenancy for well intended people to mix priorities or ideas from two projects and merge them together.  If it works for this project, it should work for this other one too.  Or, a piece of guidance given in one context gets used in a different context where it may not be appropriate.

So, if you hear me say something about crossing the streams, I'm probably implying that we may be merging two incompatible priority sets, and it could have unintended repercussions.  Why don't we want to do this?  Well, because, it would be bad.

In case you've never seen the movie. Here's a link over to the trailer over on YouTube.

Friday May 25, 2007

Sun Gains Market Share

It's nice to be on the winning team.  'Nuff said.

Thursday May 10, 2007

Finished Up JavaOne

Well, I'm all finished up with JavaOne for this year.  It's still going strong, but I've had to get back to work.  Being focused on Admins and not Developers means I can't spend the whole week up in San Fracisco playing at the show.  However, it's always great to see old friends.


Aside from my friend Duke, I got to see a number of folks from the JDK and NetBeans teams where I spent my early career at Sun.  It was especially good to see a bunch of folks from my old Java Performance team.  It seems like they're still doing great.  I got to see a bunch of the NetBeans folks, but I seem to have missed seeing my friend Trung (the NetBeans architect and one of Sun's newest Distinguished Engineers).

While it was good to see all the things going on at JavaOne, I did manage to get some real work done this week.  Oren and I had some good meetings with analysts, and in particular a fun conversation with some of the guys from RedMonk about our coming Systems Management and Connected Systems functionality.  These guys (and Oren!) are all into Twitter.  I haven't figured that out yet, but perhaps I'll have to try it to keep up with the Joneses.

I think this will be a great year for Java, so I'm looking forward to next year's J1.

Tuesday May 08, 2007

JavaOne One Minute Video

A super-quick, mini, video tour of JavaOne.  Complete with cameo appearances from a few folks on the Sysnet team. With all the new real time Java work, there is a lot of push here on robotics (very cool).  There is also a complete Sun Black Box and Java on the client is back in a big way with JavaFX.  One of the best JavaOne conferences I've attended in years!

For those of you who could make it to the show, enjoy!


Thoughts on cloud computing, virtualization and data center management from Steve Wilson, Oracle engineering VP.


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