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Miguel de Icaza's Journal: superstardom, frustration, support, etc. 2

Journal by Miguel de Icaza

What happens after you've created an exceptional product like Gnumeric? Well, you have to get your customers to buy it, use it, and ideally, love it. That even holds true for things as ubiquitous as Novell's ODF to MSOOXML.NET conversion software, exchange connector, mono.NET and silverlight.NET

I am responsible for moonlight.NET deployment and adoption. In a nutshell, my job is all about unlocking the value in Microsoft.NET products. For example, you can only experience the value of a chocolate chip cookie once you "deploy" it to your mouth or the value in a pair of running shoes once you "deploy" them to your feet. It's the same with Novell software, our customers only realize the value of mono.NET, silverlight.NET and Office Open XML exporter once our technology is "deployed" on their computer. My job is to develop strategies and tools that make the job of deploying and adopting Microsoft.NET software as clear, simple, and no-brainer as possible.

In my early job hunts, Microsoft was the most obvious fit--I'm not a very innovative guy. But on my first interview at Microsoft it took me 30 minutes just to find the latch to open my laptop (though I did successfully find the "on" button pretty quickly). I think that's why my brief time at Micosoft has played such a vital part in my career development.

Success in my role isn't about understanding technology, it's about understanding the .NET roadmap. You see, many of our customers buy our products, but then delay deploying them. You can imagine that licensing Novell Suse.NET across all the computers in a 10,000-person organization is a huge task that requires a lot of technical support and a lot of money. So, I need to figure out how to leverage our thousands of licensed patents to make deployment as straightforward as possible for our customers.

I also have to figure out how to connect with customers directly, to convince them that every day they delay deploying Microsoft's Office Open XML.NET with Exchange.NET and Sharepoint.NET all connected to Evolution.NET on SUSE.NET they miss out on real business value. In both cases, this takes a clear understanding of their functional (bits, bytes, deployment tools, etc.) and emotional (superstardom, frustration, support, etc.) needs, and ultimately, clear and simple messages about the value of .NET

With field, partner, and customer interests constantly in play, each day is pretty darn busy. Here's an idea of how a day typically shakes out:

6:54 a.m.--Put down Xbox360 controller, hop in the car and head to Novell. Plug my Zune media player (shamelessly brown and proud - its so social) into my car stereo and sing loudly to keep myself awake. Getting out the door before 7 a.m. is crucial to beating the positively brutal traffic.

7:28 a.m.--Wade through e-mails using Exchange (whats this? why does the grid control corrupt as I scroll?). Throw some random fist pumps GO-MONO!-GO-MONO!

8:02 a.m.--Run the latest Office Open XML.NET deployment numbers by country. Identify those countries that are falling behind pace. E-mail Microsoft management with ideas on how they can close the gap.

9:22 a.m -- Novell 'elite' conference call. We study the new GPL version 3, there has to be a loophole - someday I shall find that weakness and use all my cunning to twist it and exploit it to our purposes.

9:45 a.m.--As I walk back to my office I take a moment to daydream.... I run into Bill Gates and he says, "Miguel, I've been thinking. I'm going to be working on the Gates Foundation full-time in two years, and I need someone to lead the company. Steve Ballmer is a fantastic, high-energy guy; but your hairline is far better. I think you have what it takes to lift Microsoft to the next level." Almost hit by car. Snap back to reality.

9:58 a.m.--Quick one-on-one meeting with my comrades to review current projects and get some more direction on a scorecard I'm developing to track our Moonlight.NET success...

a true story

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superstardom, frustration, support, etc.

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