Today is my first day back at a full-time job since my RIF at Sun Microsystems (and the beginning of this blog).
It’s been a tough 19 months. I still can’t believe that it took this long to find a job, but I know a number of other folks still looking, and for those of us over 50, the IT job market has been very slim.
Fortunately, I’ve been able to pay my bills, due largely to the very generous severance package from Sun, and also to a couple of brief consulting gigs, several Voice Over jobs, unemployment benefits, and a few months of part-time work at Trader Joe’s.
Now, I’m back to being an SE for a hardware manufacturer. I started today at Isilon Systems, a maker of scalable Network Attached Storage for the Data Center, where I’ll be covering US Federal Civilian Agencies. This should be fun – I’ll be drawing on the basic skills I built over 17 years at Sun, but will be learning an entirely new product set to apply those skills against.
I like the fact that Isilon is a small company – fewer than 500 employees. I’ve always done well at small companies, and I often thought that the reason I did so well at Sun for so long was that Sun behaved like a small company until very near the end.
Of course, this advantage won’t last. Three days after I signed my acceptance letter, Isilon was acquired by EMC. Still, this should allow me to establish myself at Isilon while it remains a small subsidiary of EMC before the corporate culture changes to that of a big corporation.
One thing for sure – it will be an adventure. Thanks for sharing this ride with me, and keep checking in on this blog to see what happens.
I spent 17 years at Sun Microsystems, and while it had its ups and downs, I never had any doubt that it was the best job I ever had. So, one of the things that saddened me about being caught in the layoff 9 months before the acquisition of Sun by Oracle was that I couldn’t be there to say goodbye at the end. Sun was extremely generous to me, and I bear no grudge.
Suddenly, though, a couple of months ago I got a call from an Oracle Sales Rep looking for help with one of his Financial Services customers. Turns out that the customer wanted to buy Sun Grid Engine (a product in which I had specialized), along with a support contract and some consulting to help them get everything set up. Unfortunately, there was nobody left to sell the product, support it, or teach them how to use it.
So, here I am in Austin, Texas for a week of doing what I used to do. I’m building a computing grid for a customer with some very technical and complex workloads, and wearing the old Sun shirts again. And after 15 months away, it really doesn’t seem strange to be traveling again, and things are going quite smoothly. At the end of the week, the customer should be self-sufficient, and probably won’t need me to come back.
I fully expect that this will be my last time setting up Grid Engine for a Sun customer, so…
Goodbye, Sun! It was great to know you.
It was one year ago today that I received my RIF notice from Sun (and started this blog). It seemed inconceivable that I could go a year or more without finding a new job, but here I am, still hunting.
IT jobs, and probably all jobs, were incredibly scarce in 2009. I’m beginning to see signs that the situation is improving. I’ve been getting more interviews in the past couple of months, but that doesn’t mean a lot until I can actually land a position somewhere.
While it is somewhat depressing, the experience hasn’t been all bad. I had the opportunity to get some up-to-date studio training and set up my Voice Over business, and have been doing some long-overdue work around the house.
Also, thanks to the very generous severance package from Sun, I’m still paying the bills, and I’m not desperate (yet).
Anybody need a slightly used Technology Evangelist?
As reported by Reuters, the go-ahead has finally been given for Oracle to acquire Sun Microsystems.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m happy that the end of uncertainties stemming from over a year of this acquisition process (first with IBM, then with Oracle) will allow things to finally move ahead, and for customers to begin making forward-looking decisions for their computing hardware purchases.
On the other, the culture at Sun is about to be irreversibly changed, as Sun sinks below the horizon and becomes part of the largely-soulless software giant.
I will also miss the huge number of friends I made in my years at Sun (at the time of my RIF notice, I had been there almost precisely 1/3 of my life), and being part of a company where, as Scott McNealy said, we “Kicked Butt, Had Fun, Didn’t Cheat, Loved Our Customers, and Changed Computing Forever”.
OK, I’ll admit that I’m more sensitive to this than most, since in my last job I was a specialist in the SPARC microprocessor architecture.
Today, Oracle actually mentioned SPARC in an ad in the Wall Street Journal.
This might not seem like much, but it’s a huge change. There hasn’t been any marketing mention from Sun about SPARC systems in nearly a year (the newest SPARC server, the SPARC Enterprise T5440, was introduced in October of 2008).
While my little team travelled the Americas telling anyone who would listen why SPARC was still important, the Sun executives simply stopped mentioning SPARC, instead talking up the x64 products which are, let’s face it, almost identical to everybody else’s x64 products.
Even Jonathan Schwartz hasn’t blogged about SPARC in over two years!
Then, my whole SPARC team got torn apart, and most of us were laid off in May in preparation to sell Sun to IBM.
But IBM isn’t buying Sun. Oracle is (probably). And while Sun hasn’t mentioned SPARC in advertising in a year, suddenly Oracle has.
Makes me feel good.
Yeah, I know, most of you thought I was already unemployed. Sun is being very generous, though…
I got my RIF notice on 31 March, but I’ve remained on payroll and benefits through yesterday.
This week, I can file the paperwork for my severance package, and start really looking for a new job.
The job market is pretty thin, at the moment. Over the past two months, I’ve only managed to get one interview (though I haven’t been trying very hard). Fortunately, I don’t have my heart set on doing the same job I’ve been doing. While I’ve really enjoyed being a technology guru, I’m ready to try something new, and if any of my dear readers have something in mind (or a job opening they would like to fill), I’m open to suggestions.
Is the (relative) lack of email.
It’s been a week now since I was laid off, but so far, things haven’t changed much. I still get up at about the same time, and my day is pretty full. After all, I need to get my resumé up to snuff, start looking for prospects, and I’m also studying for a couple of new things (which I’ll tell you about later).
Before going to Sun, I was considered by most to be a heavy user of email. But, even back in 1992, email was the way things were done internally at Sun. We never sent around paper memos. As a result, I developed processes for dealing with the fact that, on a typical day, I would receive between 200 and 400 emails. And that was after all of the spam filters had done their work.
Now, I’m not asking to start receiving a flood of email. I’m simply pointing out that the biggest change I’ve noticed in the past week is that, with only a few dozen emails a day, my entire way of dealing with my on-line life is now very different from what from what it had been.
Since Sun didn’t turn my email account off immediately, I spent most of yesterday frantically trying to identify any web sites where I might have used my sun.com email address as my login and get it changed before it was too late.
Thankfully, the practice of using an email address as a userid isn’t as common as it once was, but I’ve been active on the web since 1993, and have a lot of registrations scattered about.
As I feared, a number of these sites allow changing your email address, but only after sending a confirmation message to the original address, with no clear way of making changes should that address become unavailable. I’m sure I didn’t catch them all, but at least the ones I still use regularly seem to be done. Now, I’ll have to make a habit of checking the settings every time I log in to a site to be sure that they’re not sending stuff to the old address.
It feels a bit strange, but after almost 17 years of having the same primary email address, I suppose there is bound to be confusion and cruft left behind for quite some time.
Of course, I have seldom used my work address for non-work stuff in recent years, but not too long ago, it was uncommon to have more than one email address. Today, I have seven email accounts going to my iPhone, and there are several more on top of that which I only check on occasionally.
While I was trying to do all of that clean-up, I installed WordPress and got my first blog entry published, and packed up gear I had at home. After taking the gear back to the office, I met with a couple of ex-Sun friends for dinner and a few beers.
My RIF package just arrived via FedEx, so I’m going to spend some time figuring out what my benefits are. Looks like Sun is being very generous, so I should have some time to reflect on what I would like to do going forward.
I don’t need to rush around for anything today, so I think I’ll take in a movie (probably Watchmen) this afternoon.
Well, as you can see, this is a brand new blog.
My first ever, in fact, so bear with me while I flesh this out.
It seems like the right time to do this, since I was laid off today from Sun Microsystems, where I have been working for nearly 17 years. I’m still coming to terms with it, but I think this is not as bad as it might seem. I’m going to treat this as an an opportunity to try something new, hence the initial name of this blog.
And I have experience to help me. I was (very nearly) laid off in 2004, but was called back at the last moment. If you’re interested, you can find an email I sent out about that experience here.
The link in that message is very old and won’t work, but it referred to the announcement that Sun was going to develop the world’s first publicly-available Grid Computing Utility. I worked as Lead Engineer on the project, and we did it. It was kind of cool. Anybody could use our Compute Grid for $1 per CPU/hour.
So, it begins again. Thanks for taking this ride with me.
Posted from Rockville, Maryland, United States.