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Sun's CIO Talks Internal Experiences

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the learn-from-a-man-who's-been-there dept.

Sun Microsystems 115

daria42 writes "This is an interesting interview with Sun's chief information officer Bill Vass, about his experiences as the CIO of one of the world's best-known high-tech company. In particular, Vass talks about corporate blogging (and frustrated lawyers), problems providing IT support to finicky Sun engineers (who sometimes demand Indian help desk support knows kernel details), Sun's programs testing its software internally on employees before it goes out, and how ultimately, his job is like any other CIO's...just with some cool toys."

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115 comments

Sun is buying Novell! (5, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13063106)

For example, he said Sun president Jonathan Schwartz -- who keeps a public blog -- was frustrated when April Fool's day came around, because he couldn't use his blog to play a practical joke.

"A few times, he's said things like 'maybe we should acquire Novell', and it changed the stock price," Vass said of Schwartz's blog. "You have to be careful ... if ever he's writing anything controversial he has to get the lawyers to look at it."


Sun is buying Novell? Ack! I need to go call my stock broker!

Re:Sun is buying Novell! (1, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 9 years ago | (#13063168)

Honestly, if the SEC outlawed April Fools Day altogether I'd consider it a net win.

Re:Sun is buying Novell! (1)

Deanalator (806515) | about 9 years ago | (#13063351)

Honestly, if the SEC outlawed April Fools Day altogether I'd consider it a net win.

Hey, dont go grinching up april fools day. That's one of the few holidays I still celebrate whole heartedly! It has also remained fairly pristine in the face of commercialism.

Re:Sun is buying Novell! (1)

team99parody (880782) | about 9 years ago | (#13063681)

"A few times, he's said things like 'maybe we should acquire Novell', and it changed the stock price," Vass said of Schwartz's blog. "You have to be careful ... if ever he's writing anything controversial he has to get the lawyers to look at it."

What's that supposed to mean....

Is this implying that his laywers are pissed because they wanted the hot-stock-tips before the general public?!?

Re:Sun is buying Novell! (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13063751)

It means that Schwartz made a joke, and it had a very real effect on Sun's stock price. Even if Sun really was actually acquiring Novell, the executives have to be very careful about what they say. The wrong thing could be seen as stock manipulation, thus placing the exec in very deep legal trouble.

Half the point of getting an MBA is to learn how to avoid situations with the SEC and other regulatory commissions.

Re:Sun is buying Novell! (2)

WarmNoodles (899413) | about 9 years ago | (#13063787)

Assuming you meant no sarcasm :)

Lawyers are always concerned about any officer of the company who may make "Forward looking Statements"

These kinds of statements often lend themselves to SEC FTC violations, and in more recent history, jail time.

For a brief history in time of Stupid statments CEO's wish thier CFO's never heard,see;

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=SEC+investiga tes+forward+looking+statements&spell=1 [google.com]

Re:Sun is buying Novell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063913)

Sun is buying Novell? Ack! I need to go call my stock broker!

Yes, that was the joke. Thanks for pointing it out.

Re: Stories like this are ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13065340)

Its stuff like this that have finally forced me to cash out my very sizeable stake in SUNW at a considerable loss. There is simply no hope that it would ever be recovered in the next 20 year and I've just run out of patience to any longer suffer fools so gladly. Yes, they may have some awesome technology and minds working for them. Its just they don't seem to know how to use it to their shareholder's advantage.

These guys remind me a lot of the Bush administration. They have all sorts of quotable views, are great at hype, and are extremely rich in excuses. The problem comes in showing evidence of any real progress.

But what the hell. Who needs credibility nowadays? The masses are ready to settle for a virtual reality rather than the real thing.

Interresting. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063108)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. First post. -A. p.s. DUMBLEDORE DIES.

Re:Interresting. (-1, Redundant)

PhraudulentOne (217867) | about 9 years ago | (#13063129)

Not cool.

Re:Interresting. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063133)

See http://zeikfried.no-ip.com/ [no-ip.com] for more info.

Article Text (ICOS) (-1, Redundant)

iced_773 (857608) | about 9 years ago | (#13063111)


Sun Microsystems' chief information officer (CIO) has backed the vendor's embrace of corporate blogging, despite difficulties such as ensuring senior executives don't post comments that affect the stock price and the occasional posting that makes the company's lawyers "pull their hair out".

"So far we've had very positive experiences with blogging, and I would encourage many other companies to do it as well," Bill Vass told ZDNet Australia in a wide-ranging interview about his experiences as the CIO of a high-technology company.

He cited Sun engineers' blogging [zdnet.com.au] of technical information and responses to questions about Sun's Solaris operating system.

Vass said Sun had faced problems with so-called 'Section 10' employees, such as senior executives that had the potential to affect the company's stock price with their blog postings.

For example, he said Sun president Jonathan Schwartz -- who keeps a public blog -- was frustrated when April Fool's day came around, because he couldn't use his blog to play a practical joke.

"A few times, he's said things like 'maybe we should acquire Novell', and it changed the stock price," Vass said of Schwartz's blog. "You have to be careful ... if ever he's writing anything controversial he has to get the lawyers to look at it."

Sun faced fewer issues with blogs written by non-Section 10 employees said Vass, but the company's legal team still read all the postings. Vass said he suspected the blogs were "making some of the lawyers pull their hair out".

For example, he said, one employee used his blog to post advice on how to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley reporting legislation. The company's lawyers forced that employee to put a disclaimer on his blog in case someone called him to account for bad advice.

Just another CIO ... almost
Vass said his position at Sun was not that different from the average CIO in that he spent most of his time facing common drudgeries like keeping costs low (his budget has halved to US$300 million over the past several years), complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley and consolidating data warehouses.

However, some unusual problems did surface sometimes, he said, citing the example of a Solaris engineer who contacted Sun's IT help desk in India and subsequently sent Vass a note complaining the help desk member who assisted him didn't know intricate kernel settings for the operating system he needed help on.

"I'm like: 'Hey, he's a help desk guy, give him a break'", said Vass.

In another example, Vass received a mysterious note that a major system had been disabled and had stopped production on a hardware chip.

Although Vass had no knowledge of this, he soon discovered the system in question was in fact the desktop machine of an engineer who had recently left the company. The desktop had been reformatted following his departure, cutting off 600 users who had over the last three years depended on it for network services.

"There was no way for us to really know that was going on," said Vass. "Fortunately we had backups and could restore it, but those are the kind of things you run into at a tech company. Everyone has an opinion and everyone's building things here and there."

Vass said while many of the Sun engineers could largely take care of their own support needs, "they're also, because of their expertise, able to really mess things up".

Risky business
One of the most exciting parts of working at Sun for Vass is the fact the company runs all of its own products generally far in advance of the time they're put out to market.

The CIO runs a group called 'Sun on Beta-Sun', that rigorously tests beta software in large-scale deployments within the company's 42,000 users. Generally the people who have to use Sun's new products on a daily basis first are the ones who build them, said Vass.

"So for instance the Solaris 10 engineers were running on Solaris 10 for their e-mail server and their own directory server, their Sun Ray server and their desktops about a year and a half ago. So if they screwed things up they got to feel the pain."

"Same thing with the hardware engineers, they'll run on the latest alpha versions of the chips. And the disk engineers will run the latest software disk management systems and things like that."

Vass said Sun chief executive Scott McNealy described this process as "flying in our own airplane".

At the end of the day, however, Vass' priorities mirror those of other CIOs. "It's not really about toys, it's about how to accelerate the business," he said. "But I do get my fair share of toys working at Sun."

Re:Article Text (ICOS) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063176)

Stupid karma-whoring piece of shit.

Re:Article Text (ICOS) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063232)

give him a break, he's just a CIO

Powered by Roller (0, Offtopic)

lowem (899426) | about 9 years ago | (#13063114)

Go, Roller! :)

One Point, One Big Problem (4, Insightful)

teiresias (101481) | about 9 years ago | (#13063117)

Although Vass had no knowledge of this, he soon discovered the system in question was in fact the desktop machine of an engineer who had recently left the company. The desktop had been reformatted following his departure, cutting off 600 users who had over the last three years depended on it for network services.

Reminds me of a guy whose leaving our company right now. We're probably not going to delete his homespace since lord knows what will break if the things in there are gone.

It'll take us awhile to get that stuff into a common place. Probably took Sun a lot of time to get that one system back up and running.

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (3, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13063191)

Reminds me when I got my first Sun Workstation. One of the things that impressed me most about it was that the machine could run tons of services AND support my regular desktop usage without the two impacting each other. It was hard to resist the temptation to load the machine to bear.

For awhile I was running nightly Mozilla builds, and even considered voluteering to be the build source for Solaris Sparc binaries. (The Mozilla project had a hard time getting Solaris builds back then.) Sadly, I left the company before I could volunteer. I imagine that if they had that machine plugged into the network and turned on, it would still be building Mozilla every night, automatically. :-)

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (4, Insightful)

chill (34294) | about 9 years ago | (#13063388)

Reminds me of a guy whose leaving our company right now. We're probably not going to delete his homespace since lord knows what will break if the things in there are gone.

This is why workstations should be workstations and servers should be servers. Allowing users in a client-server environment to share resources from their workstations is bad network design/policy. Add a cheap server and give them space, but sharing should be disabled and disallowed on workstations.

-Charles

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 9 years ago | (#13063927)

Allowing users in a client-server environment to share resources from their workstations is bad network design/policy.

He said his homespace not his workstation. It's probably /home/user which is NFS mounted on the workstation.

But he built scripts that referenced ~user/bin/ all over. Of course, it's not really that hard to grep around for 'user' and s///g with a new system-level shared directory.

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 9 years ago | (#13063975)

This is why workstations should be workstations and servers should be servers. Allowing users in a client-server environment to share resources from their workstations is bad network design/policy.

Maybe it is on a server, but a lot of critical stuff depends on what's under his public_html dir.

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

mikael (484) | about 9 years ago | (#13064533)

For a large company, user home directories are usually stored on a communal server, which allows the admins to back everything up from a central point.

Unfortunately, it also allows project build trees to be reconfigured to search user directories.

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 9 years ago | (#13066326)

Bah. I can't tell you the number of places I've worked where "Single point of failure" was the rule. In an ideal world, yes, we'd have all the hardware we need, but in the real world it is difficult to convince the PHBs why you need another machine that does X when you already have one.

So the desktop becomes the emergency backup system. Every single service I am responsible for is duplicated on my desktop. It functions as my test environment, but, if it hit the fan, I could swap it out with the primary app server and things would keep running.

And when the app server hits its max load, and I can't add more stuff to it, and I can't spend my capital budget for 5 more months, where do the new apps go? The one place they can go.

I can wish it wasn't that way, but with limited resources and unlimited demands, I've gotta do what I've gotta do, and if people at freaking SUN are doing it, I am certainly NOT alone in this.

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

chill (34294) | about 9 years ago | (#13066466)

So the desktop becomes the emergency backup system. Every single service I am responsible for is duplicated on my desktop. It functions as my test environment, but, if it hit the fan, I could swap it out with the primary app server and things would keep running.

And when the app server hits its max load, and I can't add more stuff to it, and I can't spend my capital budget for 5 more months, where do the new apps go? The one place they can go.


I've always been lucky enough to be in the position to say "no, we can't do that unless you spend more money" -- and just refuse to expand workstations into the server realm. It really helped when MS started limiting the number of connections to "workstation" versions of the OS.

I've found that in all cases, people would either pony up, or live without.

-Charles

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 9 years ago | (#13066700)

Yea, it'd be nice. They do listen to that kind of logic here, thankfully, so I only have to worry when I'm too industrious and make a production-quality application on a crap-quality machine, and then have to hope it holds together until I can spend money to get a replacement.

The last place I worked however, I came in one day and found a nest of cat5 on the floor in my office, and a sticky note on my monitor that said, "DO NOT REBOOT". My desktop had become the primary mailserver.

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

birdman17 (706093) | about 9 years ago | (#13063486)

In an earlier company my desktop workstation was a Sparc server for the other Sparc users in my group (3 or 4 of them). One day I was moving cubicles, and I completely forgot that my machine was a server, so I just shut it down and moved it over. I immediately got a bunch of complaints from the guys who couldn't access their files any more. :)

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 years ago | (#13063505)

this problem is typically management's fault. or caused by management.

I am the guy who just replaced one of those engineering guru guys. he has crap EVERYWHERE running critical systems and data collection as well as processing. someone powered off his PC and crashed the billing system.

After digging in his notes and code as well as his old email I discovered that he wanted to do things right, he had a subversion server set up and a development as well as a production server in the server room.

But, management did not allow him to do his job right. I saw endless emails and messages about needing X Y or Z right now! did he finish Z yet? why is Y not in testing? who told you to stop working on X?

it was endless so the poor guy had to half ass everything because management refused to hire him any help, refused to accept realistic deadlines or adjust importance... everything was top super critical!

I was promoted to this position, I was able to find out most of this before accepting the promotion and told them that I work very differently. I use project management, refuse to work on 5 things at the same time as that creates 5 crappy, broken things as well as makes the process 10 times longer. I explained my concerns to the divisional VP that interviewed me and he agreed that that working atmosphere was not acceptable and told me that I have his authority to tell my superiors that they have to sort out priorities themselves and that EVERY new project request will come in at the bottom of the to-do list unless it has been signed off by the VP of operations to deserve to be escalated above everything else.

The origional mess was cause by management. and until someone in management gives a peon engineer or programmer the authority and protection to tell other management "nope, sorry." it will never get any better.

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | about 9 years ago | (#13064081)

A couple of things:

The business needs drive IT needs.

If it takes an act of congress and a 15 email thread for an engineer to get real access to proper server, this kind of things will happen.

Everything that goes on in a company, good or bad, is management's doing.

The other thing is that they had backed up his hard drive, before mirroring, after he left. Is that common practice at many companies? My little finger is tingling with the "it's all company data, so yes." Can anyone confirm/deny?

We're in the same boat as far as management, of course, and things get 'broken', 'accidentally', when pre-pre-dev environments 'suddenly' and 'inexplicably' fail. Then they leave us alone for a few minutes for productionalization (it's a good word in meetings, trust me. Who can argue against productionalization?)

I use bugzilla to take care of projects issues. When mgmt ask what I am working on, I just drop the forty page long view on their desk. That, and productionalization, have saved me from many a frustration.

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13064285)


The business needs drive IT needs.


so cince the company has unrealistic needs so should IT?

sorry, but if IT needs to work on 30 projects then management needs to hire more IT employees.

i see what he was talking about as either lack of competent management or managment run amok without the executives controlling management.

If there are 10-15 CRITICAL projects needed to be worked on and you have 1 employee, nobody can expect that all 10-15 critical projects will get done.

ok maybe someone that has an IQ of 35 can expect it.

If I hand you a solar calculator, a stick of gum and a broken pencil and demand that you build me a new office building by the end of the day am I being realistic?

now if I ask for that building and tell you "get whatever resources you need" or give you the resources to get that task done.. is that now realsitic?

typically management wants miracles that cost nothing and are done with nothing. then get pissy when we ask for what is needed to get the job done.

finally, given the tools needed, if I have you work on 30 different houses all needed to be done this week, but demand that you work on all 30 of them at the same time, what are the chances that all 30 will have problems?? vewry high.

managers need to be sent to resource management classes, because typically they say "yes! no problem!" without saying "we need 1,2,3,4 and 5 to get to 6."

I demand that all techops people take friday for housekeeping. no development is done AT ALL on fridays to make sure we dont have crap all over the place. it pisses off lots of managers, but who cares, we get things done, i get to piss off managers and exec's and everyone is happy.

finally, where is these tech's managers? they should be getting in the way of these other management fools trying to get directly to that engineer.

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | about 9 years ago | (#13064615)

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly, but it's not IT only.

Marketing, manufacturing, warehousing, logistics also fall prey to management stupidity.

Management: Ship these 400 crates tomorrow. I don't care how you do it.
Guy at dock: Can I have a forklift, two flatbeds, and two helpers?
Management: No. Use the van.
Guy at dock: That ain't gonna work.
Management: We have faith in you!!! Go team!!! See you tomorrow!!! Ship those crates!!! Woo hoo!!!
(management team goes back to air-conditioned office)
Guy at dock: Morons...

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13065139)

It was management's fault.

They should have recognized that they had an engineer incapable of communicating sufficiently well to ensure he had either had the resources he needed to build the project in a sustainable and professional manner or to define the changes required to scope the project to work within available resources.

When a manager discovers they have an engineer unable to communicate those issues effectively, they have a responsibility to work with the engineer to explain the reasons for resource limitations, ask better questions, get better answers and know that 'done' means sustainable.

When a manager has an engineer who'd rather 'just do it their way to get it done because there's too much paperwork to do the job the way the suits want it', they need to recognize that too...

The worst mistakes I've made as a manager have been letting the capable-cowboy do his or her thing without constraint. Had I pushed harder, risking more intense conflict, the communication could have been improved. Sadly, my failure to push harder on the engineers not to 'go ahead alone' have always cost the engineer(s) in question more than they did me. I'm still employed (for the time being) and they are long gone.

- AC

Re:One Point, One Big Problem (1)

Goosefood (884250) | about 9 years ago | (#13066085)

If I had real-life modpoints you'd get one. You've avoided a mistake that is so damn easy to make; taking on too much work and/or allowing overlings to saturate your available capacity into oblivion. Saying no (with reasonable arguments) is something that techies are not inclined to do (in my oh-so humble opinion of course).

Herding Cats (4, Interesting)

DanielMarkham (765899) | about 9 years ago | (#13063119)

While the CIO is more businesman than technical guy, his job has to be like herding cats. FTA
In another example, Vass received a mysterious note that a major system had been disabled and had stopped production on a hardware chip. Although Vass had no knowledge of this, he soon discovered the system in question was in fact the desktop machine of an engineer who had recently left the company. The desktop had been reformatted following his departure, cutting off 600 users who had over the last three years depended on it for network services.
I knew a major financial company, which will remain nameless, that rolled out a new customer product a couple years ago. When I was talking to the architect, it turns out the whole thing was running off a computer under his desk! He said that one day he accidentally kicked the power switch, and the whole place went beserk. I "encouraged" him to perhaps move it to the server farm, where it would be a little safer. He declined, saying he "wanted more control" over the application until it was stable enough. And this was on a production product.
I do NOT envy the job of CIO. Those guys have a tough row to hoe. BTW, if you ever want to know how the industry is being perceived by business, CIO magazine [cio.com] is a great read.(but expensive) It's real eye-opener to hear things from the other side of the tracks.

Moore's Law: Not the Only Game in Town [whattofix.com]

Re:Herding Cats - Film at Eleven! (1)

WarmNoodles (899413) | about 9 years ago | (#13063262)

Its Eleven where I am, so heres the FILM.

http://www.candlelightdreams.com/videos/funny_cats _1.wmv [candlelightdreams.com]

Just found this, free(as in freedom) and open ( as in red light district) no DRM :), its good for a few laughs.

Re:Herding Cats - Film at Eleven! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13064284)

st found this, free(as in freedom) and open ( as in red light district) no DRM :), its good for a few laughs.

really? Then why is there a copyright symbol when you play the video back......

Re:Herding Cats - Film at Eleven! (1)

WarmNoodles (899413) | about 9 years ago | (#13064711)

Guess they should have put the 30 second FBI warning and RIAA warning on the front of it.
I missed the copyright.

We do not know if it is being reproduced with or without permission now do we?

You let me know how it turns out, thanks!

what's worse ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063274)

and now he has to Herd them in Hindi.

This is S&P ComStock - right ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063310)

These guys messed up on that one for sure. Actually it ran for some time about a year before this happened.

The dark side is tempting. (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 9 years ago | (#13063321)

When you are CIO of a technical company it is tempting be lax with policy and give the employees more access then they should have, it seems like a decent policy, first you save money because the desktops that people use anyways are also the servers so you don't need expensive servers, the technical people can administer their own system, and whatever they are serving.

But being a CIO you need to be a Dick every once in a while and make sure the technical people have the only the access they need to do their work properly. Have the IT department put buisness level servers in the server room and have them properly managed.

While the first way seems quicker and easier and has less personal conflect. The second way is better to manage and reduces of mission critical mistakes. It also allows for proper upgrading for the future.

Sure the employess can do the work themselvs but they rairly consider the big picture and end up with a spread of services which are hard to track and manage. It also creates a situration where an employee cannot be moved to a different position because they have the information that others dont.

Re:The dark side is tempting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063714)

and being a CIO means your responsibility is to make sure your managers do NOT get in the way of the real work being done and workers.

All of the executive staff are simply managers of the managers. Make sure that the Techops guys that WANT to do things right are allowed to.

too many executives spend more time fucking off than actually controlling the prima-donnas they have under them called upper and middle management.

the guy on the floor with a great idea is worth more than 30 of your yesmen managers that really do not do anything but show up to meetings... do NOT forget that.

Re:The dark side is tempting. (4, Interesting)

po_boy (69692) | about 9 years ago | (#13064327)

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise.
-- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, 1984

Re:Herding Cats (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063339)

When I was talking to the architect, it turns out the whole thing was running off a computer under his desk!

Posting anon to avoid any affiliations...

But one of my co-workers (we're an ISP) was running an aggregation router for about 10000 xDSL users - in his room. It was quite hot in there, but he preferred it that way because he could access the console (via serial port) with just a simple cable from his laptop. Suggestion to move the router to a rack with a terminal server was not accepted because it would take too much time (like about 3 minutes, during maintenance window).

Re:Herding Cats (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063356)

Bah, that's nothing. I know a guy who was fired by an IT director because the poor guy accidentally kicked loose the wall-wart transformer for an ISDN router under his desk.

Turns out the router was supplying a free ISP service to the IT director's wife, who was running a recruiting firm and web site at the company's expense over the ISDN line!

The transformer kicker asked something like "is that really ethical?" and was fired the next day for some completly trumped up crap. But we all *know* why he was really fired. LOL.

Re:Herding Cats (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 9 years ago | (#13063366)

He said that one day he accidentally kicked the power switch, and the whole place went beserk. I "encouraged" him to perhaps move it to the server farm, where it would be a little safer. He declined, saying he "wanted more control" over the application until it was stable enough. And this was on a production product.

Why would a CIO have problem ordering this person to move the service? Are they not given enough authority to can people not working in the best interests of the company (within reason)?

Off-topic (1)

Goosefood (884250) | about 9 years ago | (#13066203)

Jeff,

Just in case you've been wondering all these years why dutch people keep sniggering at you. It's because your nick translates as 'Jeff The Virgin'. If you ever come over you might want introduce yourself as just Jeff.

Cheerio!

CIO magazine is free (1)

JerryBruckheimer (896257) | about 9 years ago | (#13066346)

CIO [cio.com] magazine is indeed a good read. It's not expensive, though. It's free. Soul-sucking registration is required.

Re:CIO magazine is free (1)

DanielMarkham (765899) | about 9 years ago | (#13066406)

Free? I'm paying over a hundred bucks a year for a print subscription.
Thanks for the info -- BTW, I like about 20% of your output, which isn't a bad ratio for the business you're in.

Chickens: Smarter Than We Thought" [whattofix.com]

I wonder.. (0, Redundant)

dankasfuk (885483) | about 9 years ago | (#13063139)

do they have any problems with the employees in sector 7G?

Curse those darn engineers!!! (0, Flamebait)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 9 years ago | (#13063153)

...problems providing IT support to finicky Sun engineers (who sometimes demand Indian help desk support knows kernel details)

They've got a lot of nerve actually expecting outsourced help desk services to be of any use! Who the hell do these "engineers" think they are?

If these guys actually knew how to help, they'd cost more. Duh. Think of the bottom line, people!

I mean, c'mon... this can't be the first pure virtual function you've ever come across.

Re:Curse those darn engineers!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063286)

FUDding Troll. Sounds like you actually knew the people in question and their abilities so you are the authority to speak on this.

Re:Curse those darn engineers!!! (2, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 9 years ago | (#13063415)

FUDding Troll.

I love posting sarcasm and seeing how it gets received. Sometimes people with a clue see it first and it gets Teh Funnae. And sometimes... not.

Another thing, which part of my post is FUD? The main article blurb speaks about the useless Indian help desk workers. All I did was joke about it.

Sounds like you actually knew the people in question and their abilities so you are the authority to speak on this.

And sometimes Dilbert's boss sounds just like my boss. Why? Because Scott Adams writes well and is funny. Having the PHB sound exactly like my boss makes it funnier.

Re:Curse those darn engineers!!! (1)

Markus_UW (892365) | about 9 years ago | (#13063525)

As a Sun Employee, I must express that the Indian help desk workers are, in factm inept.

That said. I as an engineer, should learn to expect that others will not be as technically proficient as i would like them to be.

In the old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063507)

In the old days at Sun, the engineers did the maintainance. Nowadays, it is utterly astounding how many so-called engineers just can't administer their own frigging Desktops.

This is one reason why Sun has one of the best IT infrastructures around. It was designed by actual Engineers, who were building the protocols as they built up the infrastructure.

The same problem applies to lots of what I call "phony" Linux kernel experts these days (the self-proclaimed ones, not the real ones). These clowns are sprouting out of the woodwork, and typically the most they've ever done is type "make", or maybe a device driver. They can't admin a Linux desktop at all. And usually they rely on Windows for their desktop. It's a farce that they call themselves "kernel experts"; but their PHB usually doesn't have the knowledge to recognize that they have a pretender on their hands.

So I find it sad that so-called Sun Engineers are having to rely on help-desk support for basic administration. Any real Engineer should be able to get the problem solved faster and more reliably themselves.

Re:In the old days (1)

Markus_UW (892365) | about 9 years ago | (#13064975)

There are many things that we at sun cannot do ourselves, not having root acces, etc. to systems. We have to get the inept people in india to do things for us, and its most frustrating when you have to explain to them every single step of what to do.

Re:In the old days (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13066848)

If you replace India with Minnesota that sounds exactly like my company--I'm in California.

I think it's typical that as companies expand, the engineers' IT power wanes. That causes frustrating inefficiencies to fester and grow. Before we were acquired--er, merged--(by a certain well-known credit scoring company) our tiny IT staff (a couple guys) handled everything smoothly, and for stuff they didn't have time for, were comfortable granting trusted engineers limited sudo abilities or time-limited root access.

Now that we're part of The Machine, I have to wait two days to get a hung box rebooted because it has to escalate through three levels of bureaucracy operating in different time zones. Once I had to wait three weeks to get a single symlink created on one machine, and when it was finally done, the guy had to do it over again because he'd misread the instructions (yes, ln! I gave him the -exact command line-!).

It's no coincidence that smarter companies tend to be smaller.

Re:In the old days (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13066862)

If you don't have root access to your own desktop, and projects' servers, there's something very wrong with you. Sorry if that's offensive, but it's just true.

The best engineers that I know of always have had this, and it's always made them more efficient. Sometimes you just have to tell IT to piss off, you absolutely don't want their support.

Give em a break, talk about over worked under paid (3, Funny)

WarmNoodles (899413) | about 9 years ago | (#13063171)

>However, some unusual problems did surface sometimes, he said, citing the example of a Solaris engineer who contacted Sun's IT help desk in India and subsequently sent Vass a note complaining the help desk member who assisted him didn't know intricate kernel settings for the operating system he needed help on.

Can you imagine that call, "I am so happy to be helping you, however, I am sorry to be informing you that... pause...I am not being the Dammed premier kernel support line! " SLAM!

lol

More file descriptors! More I tell you!! (1)

wsanders (114993) | about 9 years ago | (#13064490)

I am sure this was some lame ass attempt by some engineer who couldn't figure out why he could not open 18000 file descriptors or why his "malloc 2^64" was failing, and thought changing the kernel time slice parameters to reduce context switches would help.

The poor guy in India probably had a Master's Degree in Solaris Kernel Tuning and pissed off the engineer by telling him he was an idiot.

Toys ?? (0, Redundant)

Jeet81 (613099) | about 9 years ago | (#13063187)

"..his job is like any other CIO's...just with some cool toys."

Mommy I want to be CIO and I want toys too ...

Sun lost its Sparc. (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 9 years ago | (#13063189)

I would be angry too if I called up technical support and I couldn't get kernel level knowlege. Most administrators know or at least use to know enough about the platform they are admistering to handle most of the problems and then for other things the search the web and blogs, for more help. If this fails them they have a good question for technical support. And having to go threw level 1 then 2 then 3 technical support is just annoying, and a waist of time. Technical support should be able to quicly figure out the complexity of your problem and move you to the aproprate level. If I am adding a user the person who answers the phone should give me to level 1, but if I am configuring the system kernel options then I should be placed on a higher level support.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063345)

I'd take your word for it if you sounded professional.

But "threw"? "waist"? I hope you did that on purpose.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063364)

Yikes. I hope you don't email tech support. I'd just automatically give you to level 1 every time. Holy grammatical errors, Batman!

Corrections in bold:

I would be angry too if I called up technical support and I couldn't get kernel level knowledge. Most administrators know, or at least use to know, enough about the platform they are administrating to handle most of the problems, and then for other things they search the web and blogs for more help. If this fails them they have a good question for technical support. And having to go through level 1, then 2, then 3 technical support is just annoying, and a waste of time. Technical support should be able to quickly figure out the complexity of your problem and move you to the appropriate level. If I am adding a user, the person who answers the phone should give me to level 1, but if I am configuring the system kernel options then I should be placed on a higher level support.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (1)

ravind (701403) | about 9 years ago | (#13063371)

I would be angry too if I called up technical support and I couldn't get kernel level knowlege.

Really? I normally don't expect anything more than the most basic support when I call. After all, I assume theres a reason this person is answering phone calls (spending most of his time helping people find the "any" key) and not applying for my job. Which is probably why I almost never call tech support in the first place.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | about 9 years ago | (#13063569)

This isn't AOL new user tech support. This is commercial technical support that professionals use. Most of their callers know the basic admin stuff. They call tech support when they have an actual problem.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (1)

ravind (701403) | about 9 years ago | (#13063624)

True, but at the end of the day, both of their jobs deal with the same technical system and I would expect the caller is making more money than the person he's calling. So it only makes sense to expect useful help when you are exploring an area of the system you are not familiar with, rather than when you are dealing with its intricacies and have come across a problem.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (1)

L7_ (645377) | about 9 years ago | (#13064076)

They may make more money than the person that they are calling, because the engineer is an 'expert programmer' writing (a subset of) the system in question. When they have a problem with using the system, they call the help desk, which should be 'expert users'.

I think that asking the programmer that wrote the grammar checker in MS Word about a file configuration problem, and you probably wouldnt get a very good answer. You ask the help desk, and you're damn right you should.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (3, Funny)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | about 9 years ago | (#13063376)

I remember a few years back when we had problems with one of our 0r@c13 Database. One of the tables had about 10 million records, and we had to run a complicated query that required a range scan.

The query was quite complicated, but analyzed and tuned to the best of our DBAs ability.

THe query would hang the listener every once in a while and then no connections could be made to the DB over that listner, the only solution was to bounce the DB all together.

When we called them for this problem, instead of looking at our query /db schema, all they said was try running the query with a few 100 records.

This was the response when we were paying them for a level 1 support and the problem was rated severe.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 9 years ago | (#13064021)

THe query would hang the listener every once in a while and then no connections could be made to the DB over that listner, the only solution was to bounce the DB all together.

Why not just bounce the listener?

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13066774)

obviously we tried that and it didn't work.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | about 9 years ago | (#13064789)

Maybe they wanted to know if the problem exists with only a few hundred records. It's called process of elimination.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (4, Funny)

AnalogBoy (51094) | about 9 years ago | (#13063449)

This is my newest pet peeve. Tech support, outsourced, gets a crash course it seems in provinding support. They never do it well. I've had the fortune of calling Microsoft's professional line several times, and i always get someone who is 1) difficult to understand, and 2) not any more knowledgable in the app than i am. I don't call tech support for the "Two heads are better than one" approach, i call tech support to hear "Yes, we've seen that before, here's how to fix it." Unfortunately i haven't heard something like that since my Sun days. And another thing - when they start troubleshooting at a step you tried 3 hours ago and say "we have to try this sir"... grrr.. i get angry *instantly* at that. 0 to pissed in one processor tick.

Disclaimer: I have nothing at all against Indians - however, i do believe if i call tech support i should be able to clearly understand you. I've worked in a call center before and clarity was an important benchmark - i guess if you can get people to work for small wages your standards go down a bit too. Unfortunately it looks like Outsorcing for tech support is here to stay, as unappealing as that may be. Sprint, Dell, Microsoft... grr. I call upon Shiva to bitch slap them all!

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | about 9 years ago | (#13066305)

As much as most people dispise M$, their enterprise support with MSDN registration is actually one of the better ones. I don't know about their low-level homeuser windows xp line etc.

Re:Sun lost its Sparc. (1)

AnalogBoy (51094) | about 9 years ago | (#13067416)

We have MSDN Business Critical support, and we also buy support blocks for non-BC use. Regardless, we get dumbasses.

Escalations (3, Informative)

British (51765) | about 9 years ago | (#13063939)

Here's how escalation works...

1. Customer calls tech suppport(level 1)
2. Level 1 can't fix it. Fills out an escalation form to level 2. The unseen beings of level 2 are supposed to call back. A "trouble ticket" is made to great detail by level 1 tech, apologizes to customer.
3. Time passes by
4. The unseen overlords of level 2(or escalation department) forget about the trouble ticket, hoping the customer and level 1 forget about the trouble ticket
5. level 1 prays customer never calls back, since he/she heard nothing from level 2 about it, and never will.

That's at least what happened when I did tech support for an ISP. I think I later checked on the customers with escalations, and they, well, weren't customers anymore.

Re:Escalations (1)

lmh2671772 (715482) | about 9 years ago | (#13066470)

I think I later checked on the customers with escalations, and they, well, weren't customers anymore.

Well, then, that took care of the problem, I'd say.

Engineers (1, Funny)

mfloy (899187) | about 9 years ago | (#13063244)

"problems providing IT support to finicky Sun engineers (who sometimes demand Indian help desk support knows kernel details)"
Engineers making outlandish requests is as common as Microsoft making buggy products. Good enginners and famous rock stars both need to be a little weird to be succesful.

Grammar... (3, Funny)

Hugonz (20064) | about 9 years ago | (#13063255)

...who sometimes demand Indian help desk support knows kernel details

I, for one, welcome our new Indian poor grammar kernel hacker overloards...

Re:Grammar... (1)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | about 9 years ago | (#13063649)

At least they can spell.

I KID! I KID.

not bright (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063322)

Seriously, it's pretty obvious to the most casual obvserver that SUN is dying (netcraft confirms it!). Let's take a look at the list of their recent thrashings:

1)Lowering the price on their machines by 40%. Clearly this is the death rattle. A company operating at a loss is a company which won't be operating for very long.

2)Sleeping with microsoft. When the lamb lies down with the lion, it's very rare for both to rise back up again. I know that when i watched mcnealy smile and joke with ballmer that I was convinced the end was at hand for sun: and given number one, I'd say I've been proven right.

3)Giving away their crown jewels. Sun recently has taken the very rash and very poorly exected jump onto the open source software bandwagon. Yet, if you look at the fsf web page, you can easily see that 'cuddle' (the sun license; god knows why the came up with yet another one) is as far from free software as you can get!

These mis-steps and sudden -dare I say desperate- changes in direction point to one, and only one thing: SUN's days are numbered. Time to cash in your stock and cut your losses.

Re:not bright (2, Insightful)

Decaff (42676) | about 9 years ago | (#13063632)

1)Lowering the price on their machines by 40%. Clearly this is the death rattle. A company operating at a loss is a company which won't be operating for very long.

Sheesh! First Sun is criticised for producting overpriced machines, then criticised for cutting the prices!

2)Sleeping with microsoft.

Er. There was legal action against Microsoft by Sun. Sun won, because Microsoft settled. Part of the deal was that Sun got access to some Microsoft technologies. It's not sleeping with Microsoft - it is beating them.

Yet, if you look at the fsf web page, you can easily see that 'cuddle' (the sun license; god knows why the came up with yet another one) is as far from free software as you can get!

First Sun are criticised for being closed source, then they are criticised when they open source (OSI approved) major software items.

SUN's days are numbered. Time to cash in your stock and cut your losses.

Ah, the regular Slashdot 'SUN is dead' proclamation. The one we have been reading for years. It is now so cliched it is a joke.

Re:not bright (1)

Markus_UW (892365) | about 9 years ago | (#13065036)

Thank you for shooting down yet another idiot slashdotter.

Re:not bright (1)

akuma(x86) (224898) | about 9 years ago | (#13066184)

Sheesh! First Sun is criticised for producting overpriced machines, then criticised for cutting the prices!

Actually, this sums up the problems at Sun very nicely.

They can't sell their high end machines for the prices they used to charge in the 90s because of a number of factors - Cheap linux clusters, high performance PC workstations, strong IBM and HP enterprise competition etc...

On the other hand, they can't go with cheap computers because they don't have the economy of scale to make that profitable. Also they need to invest in OS R&D, Microprocessor R&D, Systems R&D etc... Whereas a company like Dell has 0 R&D and just slaps a system together with screwdrivers and gets extremely low pricing from component vendors like Intel.

In short - their business model is broken. I have no idea how they can fix it. They will become increasingly irrelevant and die a long slow death due - like SGI.

Re:not bright (1)

Decaff (42676) | about 9 years ago | (#13067023)

In short - their business model is broken. I have no idea how they can fix it. They will become increasingly irrelevant and die a long slow death due - like SGI.

There would be a problem if their business model depended primarily on selling computer systems. It doesn't. Like IBM, Sun has been changing the focus of their company and now have a significant and increasing proportion of their income from software sales, licensing and consultancy services.

Sun have never been irrelevant; on the contrary they are having a significant effect on the IT industry. For example, Java may not be wildly popular amongst slashdotters, but it is extremely widely used for everything from business applictations, real-time systems and mobile devices. There are now many more installations which use Sun-designed software than use Microsoft! In no way can this be called 'irrelevant'.

Re:not bright (1)

museumpeace (735109) | about 9 years ago | (#13063640)

you gotta change a loosing game so I expect them to try things out. But nothing they'e tried has panned out yet. They got a lot of mind share with Java but did they get any cash?
My SUNW has been so low for so long I half expected to hear the company has put one-digit stock tickers on every executive's desk.

Re:not bright (1)

Decaff (42676) | about 9 years ago | (#13067317)

They got a lot of mind share with Java but did they get any cash?

Yes, they did. Java is the foundation for much of the software and services that they sell and license, and this forms an increasing part of their income. Selling hardware (the 'losing game', as you call it) is a decreasing proportion of their business.

They are starting to look at pricing - Ultra 20 (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | about 9 years ago | (#13063654)

They're finally starting to tinker with #1. The new Ultra 20 (based on the AMD Opteron 64 chipset) lists at $895. This is *unheard* of for Sun, particularly that the SunBlade 1500 still goes for up to $3500.

The current promotion is that the workstation if FREE as long as you buy three years of Sun service for ~$1,000, but is only a bit more than the workstation itself. The catch: annual payments instead of the advertised $29.95 per month. Sadly, the annual payments crap (roughly $400 per year for three years) was enough to kill it for me. If they implemented the advertised $29.95 per month, three of us in my department would have ordered one by now.

Even with the annual payment hurdle, for Sun to offer a workstation that actually has quite respectable horsepower under the hood for less than $1,000 is completely unheard of. Maybe they're testing the waters for further pricing structures in the future? One can only hope.

Re:They are starting to look at pricing - Ultra 20 (2, Informative)

csoto (220540) | about 9 years ago | (#13064684)

We are seriously interested in their Opteron offerings. We have been testing the W1100z and W2100z, and I am in love. Sun needs to improve Windows support for that project, since our need requires dual-booting. However, as a Linux workstation, they are astoundingly good.

Not to mention that compared to the less-than-spectacular Dell offerings (they're supposedly coming out with improved workstations soon), they are cost-competitive.

I can't wait to try the new "Ultras" (considering I used an Ultra 1, back in the "SPARC" days, I find the naming amusing- hell, I used a Sun IPC!)

Re:They are starting to look at pricing - Ultra 20 (2, Insightful)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | about 9 years ago | (#13065833)

I used a Sun IPC!

Yeah, those lunchbox systems were cute. I just recently sold my whopping 50 MHz SPARCstation LX on eBay. Fully loaded with 96 MB of RAM (the maximum), too.

Now people are starting to appreciate the lunchbox format of mini-ITX systems like Shuttle. Once again, Sun was just a bit too far ahead of its time.

Not bright? The clue meter is reading zero. (3, Interesting)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | about 9 years ago | (#13063804)

I need to clarify I think that price cuts are a good thing for Sun. I didn't realize with my first reply that you were actually criticizing Sun for cutting prices. How cutting prices is a death knell is beyond me.

The FACT is that Sun's hardware has been way OVERPRICED for almost a decade! That's exactly why I personally have seen a number of major, international, engineering firms go from Sun workstations to Dell workstations. The Dell systems were twice and fast at half the cost and the CAD/CAM product that they used was available on both platforms. So, switching to Dell was a no brainer!

The fact that Sun is starting to cut their prices tells me that they finally understand that they can no longer ride the high-price wave just because of the Sun name.

So, you tell me what's worse - selling less hardware at a higher profit margin because it's cost prohibitive, or selling more hardware at a lower cost and lower profit margin? Personally, I'd rather get anything that I sell to more people at a lower profit. It gets a larger installed base; it means that many more people that might upgrade in the future; it means even more potential sales for licensing; it means more people that might spread positive word-of mouth. There are many more benefits that I can see to selling more items at a lower cost than fewer at a higher cost. They might not be realized in the here and now, but they could bring in much better returns in the long run.

Re:Not bright? The clue meter is reading zero. (1)

Markus_UW (892365) | about 9 years ago | (#13065212)

You're talking like P4's and Sparcs are comparable by speed. I've seen way "slower" sparcs kick the crap out of P4's in benchmarks. While Sun's equiptment is certainly high in the price range, your "Twice as much for half the cost" thing is complete and utter BS.

Suffice it to say, I'm really liking the Sun Opteron offerings, because now one can actually vaguely compare the systems with, say, Dell or HP's, without running your own benchmarks on them (don't you love how companies only publish the particular benchmarks that their system performs best on *cough* IBM *cough*).

I myself think (hope) Sun will be around for the long run, and won't join those other awesome companies (i.e. DEC) that due to an outdated business model, fade away.

( I miss DEC :( ).

Know of what you speak first, please. (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | about 9 years ago | (#13065780)

You're talking like P4's and Sparcs are comparable by speed. I've seen way "slower" sparcs kick the crap out of P4's in benchmarks. While Sun's equiptment is certainly high in the price range, your "Twice as much for half the cost" thing is complete and utter BS.

You go on thinking that.

They did not make the decision lightly. One company in particular ran several 2D and 3D rendering tests using designs of various complexities with different metalurgical and thermal dynamics. The top-of-the-line Dells whipped the sh!t out of the top-of-the-line Suns by a margin of approximately three to one.

That's not to say that the program itself was not at fault. It could have been improperly compiled on the Sun systems for (as an example) 32 bit when it should have been 64 bit. That's not Sun's fault, obviously. But the end result is what the company saw when they ran their tests. And they saw Dell systems producing results at 1/2 to 1/3 the time of Sun systems that cost twice as much. They're not going to pay twice as much for 1/2 the speed just because the software vendor didn't compile the product properly.

So, no, it's not utter BS just because you (and I) would like it to be.

(don't you love how companies only publish the particular benchmarks that their system performs best on *cough* IBM *cough*)

I can only take this with a grain of salt, but supposedly some of IBM's software specs, such as for DB/2 performance, are specs as they were run on Sun systems because they were faster than AIX. Again, grain of salt.

But never take marketers seriously. I remember one time becoming furious at either HP or Dell because they said that people should buy their systems instead of Sun based on (get this) OpenGL performance! Uh, excuse me? I want to run a smokin' database or e-commerce web site, and I'm supposed to buy HP (or Dell, whichever it was) because of OpenGL performance! Whoa....

I myself think (hope) Sun will be around for the long run, and won't join those other awesome companies (i.e. DEC) that due to an outdated business model, fade away.

Agreed.

Lawyer's pulling their hair out... (1)

B11 (894359) | about 9 years ago | (#13063331)

Will someone please think of those poor, suffering lawyers, dreading all this "open" commnication?[/sarcasm]

Lovely Irony Here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063353)

Although Vass had no knowledge of this, he soon discovered the system in question was in fact the desktop machine of an engineer who had recently left the company. The desktop had been reformatted following his departure, cutting off 600 users who had over the last three years depended on it for network services.

"The network is the computer" and it bites Sun in the ass.

But the CIO doesn't really get it yet (3, Insightful)

mparaz (31980) | about 9 years ago | (#13063469)

His blog is empty [sun.com] .

Re:But the CIO doesn't really get it yet (1)

drew (2081) | about 9 years ago | (#13066054)

It contains as much interesting material as any other blog I've ever seen.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13063558)

He is just a Jupiter executer. Can't understand why so important.

What the heck was that? (1)

johnMG (648562) | about 9 years ago | (#13064100)

Wow. That was fluff. I want my 30 seconds back.

yo^u FAil It (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13064870)

[samag.com] in ^the

Interview? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13064976)

I wouldn't really call that an interview. Looked more like a story with some quotes to me.

Good luck! (1)

quark007 (765762) | about 9 years ago | (#13065354)

>However, some unusual problems did surface sometimes, he said, citing the example of a Solaris engineer who contacted Sun's IT help desk in India and subsequently sent Vass a note complaining the help desk member who assisted him didn't know intricate kernel settings for the operating system he needed help on.
well, if a solaris engineer doesn't know anything about the kernel, what can we say about the product..Sun needs a lot of good luck..oh wait..I forgot Microsoft!!

Bill Vass--Cool Guy (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | about 9 years ago | (#13065961)

Had a chance to meet Mr. Vass at the 2005 TechSouth [techsouth.org] Expo where he gave a keynote. Cool guy, good demonstration of Sun Rays and their mobile desktop technology. Being able to insert a smart card and pull up his SunOS and/or Windows XP desktop in Lafayette, LA from their corporate HQ in a matter of seconds was pretty cool. He also took the opportunity to send some barbs towards Cox and Bellsouth over the proposed Fiber-to-the-Home [lafayettec...gether.org] initiative ("Stuff like this is why it's so great you guys are getting fiber run in this city!"). So that definitely won him some points in our book. ;)
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