As part of the day's festivities we walked over to the Sun campus to learn about their iWork@Sun initiative/program. It's not a Sun product that's for sale, it's a new way that they are working- which sounds trite. However- it's really pretty interesting.
Lately I've had the perspective of Sun as a old school company that's try to move into the 21st century. This tour showed me that they're really doing some interesting things.
The most impressive thing for me was the "Sun Ray" and how it's changing the Sun offices. Let's see if I can explain...
In most office situations, everyone has a computer in their office and on that computer they have programs like MS Word, Outlook, etc. The programs "live" on the computer- where the computer goes, the programs go.
At Sun, this arrangement has changed for about half the employees. Instead of each employee having their own computer, they have an access card that works on all the computers. This brings us to the "Sun Ray".
The Sun Ray is a little tower that sits beside each monitor in the office. When an employee wants to begin work, they can sit at any computer, insert their access card and access all their programs, files etc.
So, this means that you can be working on a document at a workstation, remove your card from the Sun Ray, move to another workstation, pop in your access card and keep on working just the same.
What allows this to happen is that the programs and files are not saved on the computer workstation, like I mentioned above. Instead, the files and programs are saved, along with everyone else's stuff, on a server. In this case, the access card lets them access the server.
If you think about it, this makes the idea of a static "office" a little obsolete. Instead, your office is wherever you (and your access card) are. Sun is using this concept to reduce the amount of offices or "real estate" they need to operate.
In visiting the campus, we saw a building that was completely inhabited by workers who were in an office by "reservation". The work in a single office for up to 5 days at a time.
There's a lot more about this whole idea, but I need to get back to the presenter right now. Big thanks to Glenn Dirks for the tour!
Stowe Boyd also posted more on this subject at Corante.