Sun’s Champagne Super Nova

January 31, 2010

Coincidentally, the acquisitions of the last two companies I worked at both closed this week.  The first is Sun Microsystems where I worked from 1995 to 2008 and which was purchased by Oracle.  The second is Lombardi which I left at the end of last summer and which was acquired by IBM.

Two very different acquisitions.  One a Silicon Valley trailblazer whose acquisition took 9 torturous months to close, the other a star in the focused field of business process management which closed in less than six weeks.  One company on the way up, one an icon on the way down.

Farewell Sun

While I wish the employees of both the best of luck, I particularly mourn the loss of Sun.  It was an amazing company to have worked at.  I joined the month that Java was introduced and rode it through its dominance and then down the other side.  Even when its economic dominance waned, its willingness to take risk such as its refocusing on open source made it a fascinating place to be.  The tech industry will be a less interesting place now that it is gone.

I take heart in the fact that the Sun diaspora now outweighs those still employed there.  Sun alums can be found across the industry at companies big and small around the world (in fact there is a hearty band of us here at Dell).  While there is no more Sun “the company” there are thousands of bits of it scattered throughout the high-tech landscape.

Aloha Stanford University Network, 1982-2010

Pau for now…

Conferences going Virtual

March 9, 2009

Taken from the Process 2010 reg page

Taken from the Process 2010 reg page

On Friday Jon Hansen of Procurement Insights, sent me a link to a virtual Business Process conference that he had received an invite to.  I thought it was kind of intriguing.

Today I found out that Gary Comerford across the pond had blogged about the conference last week and was actually associated with the group putting it on.

As Gary explains:

The conference is called Process 2010 and will take place in March next year. This BPM showcase offers the most up to date insight on business process strategy and operational agility and will feature process excellence studies and successes across all industries, Workshop tutorial sessions and Keynotes on both old and new methods, and looking at advancing process management using new combinations of techniques and tools such as GIS (Geospacial Information), Workflow Artificial Intelligence and Virtual World Process Simulation.

Pretty heady stuff.  Who knows how this will come off but I’m interested in following its progress.  (BTW according to organizer Theo Priestley’s status on Linkedin, Microsoft signed up yesterday).  And the number one reason Theo cites for holding a Virtual event?  Cost.

In today’s current economic climate, cost reduction is king. What better way to reduce over-burdening costs for flights and accommodation as well as the attendance price than to remove them entirely.

Speaking of the Economy…

Next month is our annual customer/partner conference, “Driven.”   We knew that times are tough so back in December we surveyed our customers to see what their chances of attending the event were.   At that time  75% told us attending would be a possibility. As we haven gotten closer, however, we’ve started getting a bunch of feedback that many companies are now on travel restrictions (read: no travel).

As a result, today we made the decision to change our format to meet the need and are taking the conference online. While we will lose out on the personal interaction that is a big part of Driven we have already heard from a ton of customers this afternoon that this new format will allow more people at their company to participate and get educated on BPM.

So maybe there is a silver lining to this global economic downturn after all? 😉

Pau for now…

Lombardi Science Fair ’09

February 23, 2009

Last month we held our company kick off where all 200+ of our employees from all around the world gathered here in Austin for meetings to get set for the upcoming year.  One of the highlights of the three days was the 4th annual Lombardi Science Fair.

The official progarm and ballot.

The official program and ballot.

Each year, people are given a couple of weeks during work time to work on a project that extends the base platform of Blueprint or Teamworks in some cool new way.  As the official Science Fair rules state:  “Anyone at Lombardi can enter… all you have to do is think up a project, register the project on the wiki page  build the project, and show up ready to pitch your project on January 27!”

Two of the four winners, Scott and Allison and MC Phil previewing the grand prize.

Two of the four winners, Scott and Allison and MC Phil previewing the grand prize.

This year there were close to 40 projects and awards were given in three different categories as well as one project that was picked as “Best in Show.”    The winners received iPod Nanos and the Best in Show was the recipient of $1,000 in cold hard cash.  Not only that, but all of the winners will be show cased at Lombardi’s upcoming customer event, Driven.

The Fair commences.

The Fair commences.

Everyone Wins

The real cool thing for customers, Lombardi and the entrants is that a lot of these out-o’-the-box  projects find their way into the products over the coming year.

This was my first time at Science Fair and I was really impressed with, given the size of Lombardi, how elaborate the whole shebang was.  Nice way to keep innovation pumping.

Pau for now…

Craig pitching his innovation.

Craig pitching his innovation.

Who’s Using GWT? Red Hat Joins the Fray

December 11, 2008

This morning on Twitter, Rich Sharples, Director of Product Management for the JBoss EAP (Enterprise Application Platform) and former Sun compadre, sent out the news that JBoss was adopting the Google Web Toolkit.

Here is what Rich had to say in his blog a few hours later:

Today Red Hat announced a couple of things :

1. that we’ve signed Google’s corporate contributor agreement

2. that we’re adopting GWT (Google Web Toolkit) as a core part of JBoss Middleware

The world doesn’t need another Java framework for developing rich AJAX apps. so we’ve decided to go with what we think is a real leader – Google Web Toolkit. (Read more)

(I hope this doesn’t mean that JBoss will be replacing us as the self-proclaimed GWT poster child 😉 )


GWT draws inspiration from the Brady Bunch (does that make Alex, Cindy?)

And in other News

In other GWT related news today, Google posted a timeframe and details for their next release, 1.6.  And as if that wasn’t enough, Google also posted four sets of developer videos where each of the four gentlemen (including Lombardi Blueprint‘s very own Alex Moffat) discuss how GWT has helped them and why they chose it as their weapon of choice.

Update:  This just in… (non-geeks need not read on)

A  few hours after I originally posted this entry, the Register posted their summary of today’s events and quoted our Mr. Moffat

Alex Moffat, chief engineer at the business process management firm – and GWT user – Lombardi Software told El Reg he’s mostly interested in GWT 1.6’s string performance and compiler improvements.

However, Moffat said he’s disappointed to see GWT’s in-browser hosted mode has been moved to a “post 1.6” feature on Google’s roadmap. The feature, which lets developers debug their apps within a web browser rather than GWT, was originally slated for version 1.5 and then 1.6 until Google’s latest development update.

Pau for now…

Talking with the President of Dell Americas about Cloud Computing and the Economy

December 1, 2008

When I attended the RackSpace Customer event back at the end of September I was impressed with the talk that Paul Bell of Dell gave (Paul reports to CEO Michael Dell and is responsible for all business operations for Dell in North and South America).


Dell and the Cloud(s) (sources: my hand + the football Dell gave out at the conference + Friday’s sunset)

In his keynote Paul talked about Cloud Computing and the challenges the economy was presenting Dell and its customers.  I caught Paul after his talk (BTW Lombardi is a Dell customer and Dell is a Lombardi Teamworks customer) and asked if I could tape a podcast with him.  He graciously agreed and here’s the result that I recorded at the beginning of last week.

Take a listen:

>> My talk with Paul (11:59): Listen (mp3) Listen (ogg)

Some of the Topics we tackle:

  • The key Cloud characteristics: Speed to deployment and ease of turning on/off
  • The need to separate the “real” from the fictitious when it comes to the Cloud
  • The interest Paul is seeing in the Cloud from smaller companies
  • Two of the biggest ways Dells plays in the cloud 1) supplier of infrastructure 2) deliverer of IT as a service
  • How on one hand the tough economy is driving interest in utilizing the cloud while at the same time it is causing a slow down in the sales of cloud infrastructure
  • The economy (starts ~7:30): Looking back at what happened in 2001 and trying to gain insight
  • How the economic malaise that hit North America has finally caught up with South America
  • How Dell is planning to help customers during these tough times.

Pau for now…

Lombardi Analyst Call

November 25, 2008

Last week Phil Gilbert and Rod Favaron, our President/CTO and Chairman/CEO respectively, held a call with analysts.  Since Lombardi is a privately held company these weren’t financial analysts but rather industry analysts like Gartner, Ovum, the 451 group etc.  That being said, the call which is usually held twice a year, is run very much the same way a traditional financial analyst call would be run for a public company.


Lombardi’s fearless leaders, conveniently labeled.

What we talk about when we talk about Lombardi

Last week’s call, which was in addition to the normal semi-annual calls, was set up in order to address questions around the current economic downturn and what effects we may or may not be seeing.

Here are some highlights from the call that Sandy Kemsley noted in her blog

Lombardi continues to grow — 60% in license revenue and 40% overall — although their services business isn’t growing as fast as license sales since they are bringing on more partners to provide services rather than doing it all themselves, especially in geographies that they can’t cover well. They’ve increased their headcount by 25% and increased productivity (which allows them to grow revenues faster than headcount), and are in a profitable state for 2008. They believe that BPM will be counter-cyclical to the current economic crisis, and have the potential to grow in more difficult financial times due to a closer focus on ROI… (read more)

You can also check out the write-up from Dennis Byron of eBiz and get his take.

Pau for now…

What’s in an internal name? A cheesy band?

October 16, 2008

Just because your product is serious, it doesn’t mean your internal release names have to be dull.

In the case of Blueprint, given the frequent release cycle that its hosted nature allows for, the team looked for a naming schema that would allow for a large set of possibilities.  The answer? An alphabetical list of “bands-from-the-70’s-and-80’s-that-are-at-least-somewhat-cheesy.” Behold…

The first 14 releases on the wall of Lombardi HQ.  With each new release a new album is purchased, framed and hung on the wall.  All with great ceremony.

One man’s (or woman’s) cheese…

Now “somewhat cheesy” is obviously subjective and if you look at the list below I’m sure you’ll find one or two that one could argue were legitimate bands.  I would also be willing to wager that which of these were considered “legitimate bands” would vary widely depending on who you are. Party on Wayne!

The List of Internal Release names and release dates:

Pau for now…

Ellison and Stallman Rain on Cloud Computing

September 30, 2008

Like all “new” things, if its hot and catches on everyone and his brother will jump on the band wagon and want to spread some of its magic pixie dust on their offerings — witness the overuse of the term “Web 2.0.”  Such is the current case with “Cloud Computing” a re-branding of an evolution of technology that includes utility computing and software as a service concepts.

(Note: One of the many great things about Cloud Computing is the amount bad puns that it allows for e.g. see title.)

Richard Stallman’s alter-ego “Saint IGNUcius.” (photo taken in Hawaii where we presented).

Everything tastes better with Cloud Computing on it

As Forrester analyst Frank Gillet explains on, this current overuse of the phrase is being referred to as “Cloud Washing” or the application of “Cloud Spray.”  It is this misapplication of the term that Oracle’s Larry Ellison railed against at the Oracle financial analyst meeting, “I can’t think of anything that isn’t cloud computing with all of these announcements.”  Still others are concerned that this willy-nilly application of the phrase will only serve to cloud the meaning of the term (remember what I said about bad puns).

Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation, whom I respect but don’t always agree with, tells the Gaurdian that he sees cloud mania as “worse than stupidity.  It’s a marketing hype campaign.”  Being no dummy however, Stallman has used this trend to do a little marketing of his own and grab valuable virtual ink in promotion of Free Software.

The Silver Lining

All this misappropriation aside, Cloud Computing is hot and represents a legitimate trend in computing that is occurring (and has been occurring for sometime now as an evolution rather than a revolution).

It is both this current buzz as well the legitimacy of this trend that led me to my current job, Marketing Director for Lombardi Blueprint process documentation solution.  Blueprint is a cloud-based offering that is available now (in fact you can even get a free trial).  But more on Blueprint in a future post.

Pau for now…

The Gartner BPM Summit: Cool High-Tops, TLAs and The Price is Right

September 25, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, my second day on the job, I was on a flight to our Nation’s capital to take in the Gartner BPM Summit.  It was a great way to dive into the wild and wacky world of Business Process Management.  It also enabled me to meet a lot of the members of the Lombardi team who aren’t based here in Austin.

To say it was different from the last tech event I attended (Debconf08) would be an understatement.  Out the 600 odd attendees, I don’t think I saw one t-shirted hacker. While I did see a cool pair of high-tops (see below), it was mostly a blazer-clad crowd (moi included).

These shoes are so money!

According to Gartner, the assembly was pretty evenly split between Business (51%) and IT (49%), roughly 60% of which identified themselves as currently being involved in a BPM project of some sort.

Some of the things I learned

The three days of the Summit I hit a whole bunch of talks to try to get up to speed in this industry which is new to me.  I learned a ton, met and talked with a lot of great people (including a buddy from high school that I hadn’t seen in 15 years and who is now at IBM) and soaked up a whole bunch of new TLAs.

Here are a few of the notes that I took:

  • BPM is a journey that affects culture, skills and the way that work gets done
  • BPM objectives: Agility, speed to market, compliance, customer satisfaction, efficiency and cost savings.
  • Whoever best describes the problem is the one most likely to solve it (I want to remember this one)
  • SaaS: Two of its biggest benefits are: 1)  its pricing model allows it to fit within an operational budget (no need to get your manager’s manger’s manager to sign-off) and 2) the web-based nature allows for nearly instantaneous implementation.
  • During the Thursday morning SaaS session Michele, Cantera of Gartner and conference co-chair, positioned Lombardi Blueprint well by saying that it targets the business person and not the business analyst and thereby opens up BPM to a much wider audience (the “accesible pricing” doesn’t hurt either).  I also liked her phrase “Modeling in the Cloud” that she used to describe the space that Blueprint plays in.
  • In Michael Blechar’s talk on Business Process Analysis (aka BPA) tools he offered up a great quote appropriate to the space of process modeling.  Everyone knows the first part of Muhammad Ali’s famous quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” but Michael provided the rest of the quote, “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”

Gene Rawls models what to wear with C-note high-tops.

A vendor presentation that’s not a sales pitch!?

Lombardi was a Platinum sponsor of the event and we had a booth, a couple of talks and a great Hospitality Suite on Thursday night.  Ill have to admit that when I heard we were doing a vendor presentation, given my experience with other vendors at other conferences, I was expecting a Lombardi roadmap presentation and sales pitch.  I was therefor completely taken by surprise when Toby, our VP of Professional Services got up and didn’t talk about Lombardi at all but instead took the audience through the 10 things needed for a successful BPM project.

For the second half of the hour, Toby turned the platform over to Gene Rawls, VP of Continuous Improvement at Wells Fargo and Lombardi customer.  Gene, in his soft-spoken manner did a great job of telling the audience how he and his team went through their implementation and what to expect.

Come On Down!

One of the high lights of the conference were the hospitality suites on Thursday night.  Three other vendors hosted a suite and the themes they chose were football, James Bond/Casino Royale and rockstar/Guitar Hero.  We chose “The Price is Right.”  While it was a cool concept, the execution was very cool.  We held actual 10 contests and gave such amazing items as a Toaster Oven, an iPod Speaker Dock, a luggage set and a NEW CAR (ok it was a remote control toy Hummer).

Lombardi marketing VP Jim Rudden channels his inner Bob Barker.

Pau for now…

Wrapping up my second Week at Lombardi

September 19, 2008

My last day at Sun was two weeks ago and, trite as it may sound, it seems like another lifetime.

I started at Lombardi last week but spent the majority of that week attending the Gartner BPM Summit in DC (pictures to be found in an upcoming post).  During my 13 year career at Sun I had carefully engineered it so that I stayed on the periphery of enterprise software apps, now however I find myself smack-dab in the middle of the segment and being excited about the whole adventure.

This week was my first real week in the office at my new gig and I spent a bunch of time getting my desk set up, trying to pick a mail client that worked best with the new environment, learning where the bathroom was etc.  I was expecting a big culture shock going from a company of 35,000 employees to one of 200 but so far its been pretty smooth.  Maybe the big freak out comes in the second month.

One of the things I’ve noticed which I’ve enjoyed is how quick the feedback loop is in a small company and how much easier it is to attack opportunities in a holistic way with cross-functional partners (pls excuse the buzz-words).  This observation Im sure comes as a shock to few people, but after being at a large company for 13 years its something new to me.  The other thing I’ve noticed is how awesome it is to have a kitchen packed with drinks and food.  No on-site masseuse but you cant have everything.

I’m looking forward to week number three.

Pau for now…

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