Thursday, March 09, 2006

Highlights from FOSE 2006

Scott McNeally's Keynote (CEO of Sun Microsystems)

Scott's keynote was the first of the day - 9:00 AM and was attended by perhaps 700 people.

Most of his keynote was about what Scott calls the "Participation Age".

The theme being that global markets require us to be better at sharing knowledge and resources than our competitors. He adapted this message to homeland security, FEMA/Katrina, etc... saying essentially that only through open architectures, standards, and document formats - can agencies communicate and share effectively.

He also mentioned the efforts of Massachusetts to move toward the Open Document Format (ODF) standard for office productivity files (i.e. word, excel,powerpoint equivalents). At one point he implies that after Massachusetts recently passed a law imposing a preference/requirement for open standards/royalty free data formats in Massachusetts government purchases of software - - - pressure from Microsoft forced the resignation of MA's CIO (Groklaw has more background on this). He even put in a plug for the guy, calling him "very hireable". Very classy of him to do that.

The rest of his talk was about Sun's new products, especially those based upon Solaris 10 and Linux and their new T1 chip.

Sun's new T1 looks very good. 8 cores on a die, 32 simultaneous threads. MMMMmm-Good!

John Chamber's Keynote (CEO of Cisco)

John's keynote was at 1:00 PM - and was attended by about 1000 people. Standing room only.

The theme of John's keynote was also one of better communications, sharing of information, open standards, etc... But also included two interesting demos. The first demo was of his staff collaborating on a fictitious product. On a computer screen - you see his staff start a VOIP call, then drag other's into the conversation for an impromptu meeting. They did this by literally dragging and dropping the person's name from their outlook email - into the conferencing app. Pretty cool stuff. He stated that all his employees have web-cams on their workstations - and their conferencing software enables anyone to see and talk to anyone else in their company with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The second demo involved using radio-to-ip technology to make two very different radios work together. One radio looked like something out of world war II. It was a giant green monster of a radio. The other looked like something made in the late 80s.

Unlike Scott, John did not talk from the podium. Instead he delivered his talk as he walked around and through the crowded audience. I got the impression he was an intensely personal communicator. His eyes never seemed to look toward the audience but instead bounced from person to person in the audience as he walked around. He locked eyes with people as he made his points about the need for more effective digital communications. He locked eyes with me, for example - about 3 times.

I got the impression he was really operationallizing the ideas he presented. I have no noubt that he really does do video conferencing with his employees (his said this was his preferred method of communicating at work). I can readily picture him pulling up a mail room operator into a teleconference to find out about an expected delivery.

Neet stuff, though it probably makes the employees a bit nervous at times.

Miscellaneous Vendor Booths / Talks


JBoss had an excellent presentation about Service Oriented Architectures. If there's a great nugget worth repeating from the presentation it'’s the realization that we can no longer think internally about our data. What we may call output is somewhere else - input - and what follows from that is a need for a highly modular application stack based upon open and interoperable components. JBoss seems to believe that this is why they are currently the most deployed app server in the world (highest number of installations world-wide). I tend to agree.

Suffice it to say that JBoss is worth a look as a candidate for use as an application server.


This product is a plugin for powerpoint that allows you to turn a powerpoint presentation into a FLASH based training module or presentation.

Very easy to use and seems like a smart way to make simple training aids. They even make adding audio tracks easy. Impressive.

It is worth noting, however - that you've been able to do pretty much the same thing with open office for quite some time now. And open office doesn't cost anything.

NOVALUG Presence

The nothern-virgina-area linux user's group (NOVALUG) had a booth and was passing out free Ubuntu and Novell Linux CD's and DVDs. I am a member of this lug - so I was glad to see them there. The seemed very busy. Giving away linux on a live CD at a rate of about 1 per minute. I expect they'll have given away several thousand before FOSE is over.