Sandeep Konchady is a member of the technical staff at Sun Microsystems and also working on a MS in Software Engineering specializing in Enterprise Software Technology (MSSE EST) at San Jose State University. As a full time employee at Sun, Sandeep was struck by the opportunity for his fellow students to work with other Sun staff on engineering projects as part of their degree work at SJSU. Since so many Sun projects are now open source, he reasoned it should be easier than it might have been in the past.
Q: What are the students at SJSU doing with Sun?
Sandeep Konchady: There are two teams of three students each working on separate projects under the Mural project umbrella. The Mural project is building an open source community with the purpose of developing an ecosystem of products that solve the problems in data management through a collaborative community-driven approach. Leveraging the OpenESB and NetBeans communities, the Mural community seeks to build a foundational open-source data management infrastructure to form the basis of master data management initiatives (i.e., Customer Data Integration or CDI, Product Information Management, or PIM) and of traditional data warehousing and business intelligence initiatives. It will also provide data services for Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) initiatives and Enterprise Web 2.0.
Q: Do you work on Mural?
SK: No, I do not work on Mural. In my day job I drive test development, and execution of new media components for both JDK and JavaFX.
Building the Community
Q: How did you match the students with the Mural team in Sun engineering?
SK: After I received a list of projects that various engineering teams within Sun wanted to offer to students, I presented this to Dr. Dan Harkey, the director of the software engineering department at SJSU. He narrowed down the project topic that he wanted to offer to students from his department. I presented details from this narrowed down-list to the class, where students were offered various projects from different departments within SJSU and other companies. Depending on the interest and skill sets of each team, students would then pick a project. In our case, two teams of students expressed interest in working with Sun on the Mural project. A conference call was set up between the students and the Mural engineering team to introduce them and get the project started.
Q: You said a call, not an in-person meeting. Where is the Sun Mural team located?
SK: Most of Mural team is located in the India Engineering Center (IEC), Bangalore.
Q: Has the work started yet? And when will it be complete?
SK: Yes, the work has started as of February 2008. It will be completed from University's perspective by end of summer 2008 (August 2008).
Q: Will the students' work be public?
SK: Yes. Each student's code putback will be visible to the public at java.net. Students are also considering presenting a mini-talk or poster in the Community Corner at JavaOne 2008. This will highlight their current and proposed work that they are doing with Sun.
Q: What is your involvement with the students' projects?
SK: As the initiator of this effort, I am involved at multiple levels. Primarily I am managing the communications between the students, the university, and the Sun engineering team. Other than that, I also give students technical guidance on setup, FAQs, and debugging of the Mural project, which means I need to be a bit hands-on for this.
The Ongoing Effort
Q: How much of your time does this take? And do you communicate just by email, or also by phone or even in person?
SK: This effort takes quite a bit of my time, usually five to eight hours per week, after working hours. I try to address most of the issues via email, as do other members of Mural team. However, for ensuring success of this program and making sure that the students don't feel left out, I talk to them over the phone on a regular basis and also have met them a couple of times over the last month.
Q: Do you have a project for your degree that is also related to your Sun work?
SK: This exact question started my quest to find out what Sun has to offer, but I am not working on a Sun project for my school project.
Q: So what is your school project?
SK: My school project aims at implementing a publication done by Dr. Jerry Gao and his team on building an infrastructure tool for automated API testing of Commercial Off-the-Shelf components (COTS).
Q: Will we be able to meet you in the java.net Community Corner at JavaOne this year?
SK: Yes, I will definitely be there to talk to potential schools and students who would be interested in participating in Sun's project offerings.