People are tempted to dismiss the Sun Reunion as an exercise in sentimentality. High tech is about the latest and greatest. Not about reliving glory days. Besides, the past often proves to be far less pleasant than we remember. Kinda like childbirth.
But Roland Smart asked me today if I knew any other company that did reunions. I could think of colleges, fan clubs, alumni organizations, veterans, vintage car clubs, towns, countries, and biker clubs. Not companies. Companies don’t do reunions.
So why are Sun alumni doing one? And why did I jump at the chance to attend?
I’m going because of Lou Delzompo. Lou taught me the meaning of competence. To show up prepared. Before productivity software was invented, Lou kept a complex engineering project on track using an ASCII keyboard and an inkjet printer. As Laura Ramsey put it, sooner or later everyone at Sun got their Lou Delzompo.
I’m going because of the engineering team for NIS+. The product was released too early and, as a result, had a lot of problems, but it was that engineering team that taught me to expect and demand excellence. Besides, they gave me my own small lab to write this book. :-)
I’m going because of Mateo Burtch. Walk the halls of Solaris engineering, and to this day you’ll find Mateo’s cartoons with “Save” boxes drawn around them. Erase one of those, and you will die a quick and painful death. But Mateo was a lot more than his cartoons. He was the type of guy to show up to a customer meeting wearing Boston Celtics boxers over his suit. Not sure it helped his career, but Mateo’s irreverence gave the rest of us the courage to question authority. And with those questions, to contribute to the innovative culture of Sun.
I’m going because of the Rocky Mountain Technology Center. I didn’t stop smiling for the two years I worked there, and I believe I gave everyone at least a dozen hugs. At RMTC and other Sun campuses I met too many delightful people to enumerate. The picture of the San Diego Timex crew, above, will have to represent. At Sun we bonded because we learned to count on each other. We delivered. No matter what.
I’m going because of Dave Miner. Smart, like all Solaris core engineers, Dave is willing to slug it out on the technical issues like all great Solaris core engineers. But he’s also kind. And willing to take the time to explain this technology to head-scratchers like me and the folks in the BigAdmin and OTN communities. Even though he can’t dunk worth a damn.
I’m going because of Robert Weeks and BigAdmin. And Constance McKenzie, Karen Perkins, and Christine Sterner, who helped me keep it alive during Sun’s financial decline. A decade later, an entire engineering team couldn’t muster the courage to tackle what Robert built.
I’m going because of Ed Zander. Next time you walk through a rough part of town after dark, bring Ed. In no time he’ll have the gangs on your side of the river working for him, and figuring out how to take down the gangs on the other side of the river. Ed imported some badly needed Brooklyn street swagger to Sun’s California Sunshine culture.
And, of course, I’m going because of Scott McNeally. If ever this phrase applied to anything, it applied to working for Scott: if I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.
I don’t know how many of them will be at the reunion, but I will. And they’ll be on my mind.