Sun’s a global company, so I spend a fair amount of my time on the road, talking to customers and employees. Last week, I was touring Europe, meeting with government officials and commercial customers, talking about open standards, open source, and the opportunities ahead.
On the one hand, I really enjoy seeing the world. It’s becoming more true by the day that the globalization of network standards is allowing the localization of the internet itself. A web server in the US is the same as a web server in Brazil. But a web service based in the US is unlikely to succeed against its local Brazilian counterparts without comprehending local culture. There’s nothing like being there to understand the market.
I also had a chance to join McLaren, and some of our customers at last weekend’s Formula 1 race in Monaco (ok, I could only stay for the trials). 11 stories up in the Mclaren apartment, I had a bird’s eye view of the trials below. Mclaren and Sun have been partnering on car design and telemetry for a while – and we’re featured on what seems like a square inch of real estate on the back of their rear view mirrors.
I’d never seen a race before (or been to Monaco, for that matter) – and I’d never heard a race, either. Along with hats and t-shirts, ear protection is a big seller from street vendors (seriously). You have no idea what loud is until you hear an F1 car accelerate. And it’s amazing to see up close what $300M+ of R&D looks like with four wheels and a steering column (according to Jonathan Neale, that’s what they invest for one season to build a few cars). I asked Jonathan if he’d ever driven a Formula 1 car. “Um, no.” Granted, I’ve never taken the console of an E25K.
It’s also amazing to hear what our competition’s been telling some of our European customers. IBM told several that they couldn’t port their apps to Solaris 10 because Sun is withholding information – but only on Opteron. Which even the customers knew was ridiculous. It’s tough to withhold information when the product’s free, and code’s open. (They offered another customer a “private version of WebSphere on Solaris 10, supported by IBM Global Services” – um, no thank you.) I’d like to thank the customers that continue to demand choice, and the ton of partners we’re signing up to deliver it. I think we’ve cleared 1.5M license downloads.
The downside of travel, of course, is being away from home. With the gobs of bandwidth available in the world, I’m hoping someone will deliver a reasonable life size video conferencing solution that doesn’t cost as much as an F1. In my lifetime. I’m not convinced it’ll ever replace truly being there, but I’d love to save a couple plane flights…