April 27, 2007

Sun Labs: Where Engineers Engage Their Passion And Have Fun

Yesterday I had the good fortune of attending the annual open house at Sun Labs in Menlo Park, California. If I had know that engineers could have that much fun or that network security/encryption experts could have the bandwidth of knowledge and sense of humor of Radia Perlman I might have stuck with engineering and not gone to law school.

The day was an intellectual holiday, free of the usual trappings and marketing hoopla surrounding vendor sponsored events. I learned about Project Live* (pronounced Live Star) a new virtualization technology; Project Sun spot – an experimental platform for developing wireless sensor, robotics and swarm intelligence applications in Java; new authentication schemas for web security and the Ephemerizer project which is designed to provide assured delete by employing public key cryptography and the planned destruction of keys as a means to delete access.

The environment was purely intellectual and the only sales type I ran into was from one of the major research houses. Engineers were indeed exercising their passion and zeal as much as any attorney representing their clients. They were hoping to enlist disciples who would help to move their various projects from the laboratory to reality. In many respects it was refreshing to engage in discussion about so many concepts in their product infancy. It was especially intriguing for me to address the issue of document control simultaneously from the technical and legal aspects.

I bought a copy of Whit Diffie’s latest book “Privacy on the Line” which he was kind enough to autograph with a personal note. Whit and I go back a long way – in fact to my first published market forecast at my very first research job. The day was not all joy, however, because Whit told me that one of our mutual friends had recently passed away. Paul Heckle was a good and gentle man who always concerned with the future of software, ease of design. A rare bright light in the technical landscape.

I’m grateful to Sun Labs for giving me a day away to see the future, but remember the past.

No comments: