By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2003-09-11 Print this article Print

Papadopoulos: Well, that vision thing. At a very basic level Im the fiduciary for the technology of the company. And it is a high-tech company, so it is fundamentally where we go with our R&D portfolio. Thats fundamentally the thing that I worry about. Its spent at a rate of $500 million every quarter. And any project that youre working on is three years away from being completed, because engineers walk around with signs on theirs heads that say "give me something to do that Im going to show you in 18 months." So you always have to have this lead on where that is going. Extrapolation in this business is really dangerous. If you sort of take what the market is asking for right now and what people think they need, thats what I should be investing in. That gets you into some serious trouble in computing. You sort of follow the conventional wisdom and you sort of end up three years from now having built the thing that people wanted three years before. Its a lot of leading that duck and getting there. For me there are two sides of the role in the way that its built up within Sun. Theres the "get out and fundamentally be a liberal force" that makes the company uncomfortable at any moment in time with its R&D portfolio. Thats one side. Sort of this liberalizing view and the view of making the company in this perpetual state of discomfort with what its doing.
The other side is the processes around conducting the engineering. Which is all the top, for instance the chief engineer, who is Rob Gingell, reports into me. He is deeply concerned with the how is it that we go create whole systems out of the company because ultimately Sun delivers a single product: its network computing. And if youre going to keep $2 billion dollars or R&D coherent, you have to think really hard not just about whats the next great thing thats cool to go do, but what is our ability to actually deliver a system and execute on that. So I have things that are cross-company things, like Java Community Process. Ive got a group of a few dozen over-the-top physicists there who work on a lot of basic physical technology.
eWEEK: So what excites you about these next great things? Papadopoulos: What Im really excited about is what does that new world look like, whats the consequence from what the software stack is and how is that going to affect systems, because its going to re-invent a lot. And were kind of sitting at this classic triple point or phase change in that you judge things with the current lens of whats efficient, whats right and that kind of builds up into this extreme kind of commoditization and innovations over, its the end of the industry. While this next thing is really starting to accelerate and people get confused as to whether youre talking about the existing thing or where youre going. And that confusion happens all the time. eWEEK: I liked how you pulled out words like open and standard, free and commodity in your presentation.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel