The Heroes of Java: Sacha Labourey

Markus Eisele
The "Heroes of Java" series has a run these days. Sacha took some of his precious time and joint as no. 19. Most of you know him from his JBoss time.

Sacha Labourey
founded the European headquarters for JBoss and, as GM for Europe, led the strategy and partnerships. In 2005, he was appointed CTO of JBoss, Inc. and as such, oversaw all of the JBoss engineering activities. After JBoss was acquired by RedHat in 2007, Sacha became co-General Manager of Red Hat's middleware division. He ultimately left Red Hat in April 2009 and he formed CloudBees, Inc. in April 2010.

Who are you?
My name is Sacha Labourey, I live in Switzerland and I was born 12 years ago when I joined the JBoss project to contribute its first clustering implementation. I immediately felt in love with middleware, open source and Java. I have now decided to work on the future of middleware and make Java developers cool again, and that happens in the cloud.

(Oh, and don't worry, JBoss' clustering implementation has been totally rewritten at least twice since then, so you are now at no risk of using JBoss AS. )

Your offical job title at your company?

Do you care about it?
You bet, I'd better! This is really a great passion and I am very lucky to work with some of the brightest guys in that industry, so this is very stimulating.

Do you speak foreign languages? Which ones?
Well, English would be a true foreign language since my mother tongue is French. I also studied German for 8 years but haven't practiced much so it would need a refresh. I also try to learn Rumantsch (Surmiran) to understand my wife when I'm on vacation in the Alps ( but I am struggling.

How long is your daily "bootstrap" process? (Coffee, news, email)
The first thing I do in the morning when I am barely awake is to read my emails on my phone, followed by various RSS feeds (IT, general news, etc.). That way, I start thinking about things in a calm way while getting ready and having breakfast.

You have a twitter handle? Why?
Yes, @SachaLabourey. Only because everybody obviously care about what I think about all things, right? ;) I actually think this is a great way to get a drum beat of what happens in our business.

Whom are you following in general?
There are no hard rules but from a business standpoint, I typically follow partners, competitors and rain makers. From a personal standpoint, I follow some of the leading News channels and a bunch of crazy and/or funny people.

Do you have a personal "policy" for twitter?
"If you are unsure whether you should send a tweet, don't send it."

Does your company restricts or encourages you with your twitter ussage? CloudBees encourages usage of social media, whatever they are. We currently don't have a policy simply because I trust people common's sense by default and I don't like to "design by exception".

What's your daily development setup? (OS/IDE/VC/other Tools)
Mac or Windows, Office and Google Docs and Chrome ;) As a CEO, I don't have the opportunity to code anymore (outside of the demos I do). But that's probably a good thing for our customers...

Which is the tool providing most productivity to your work?
"The Cloud"! All of the tools I am using are SaaS tools, Google, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. I can take a brand new laptop with just a browser and be ready to work in 2 minutes, anywhere, anytime.

Your prefered way of interacting with co-workers?
Face-to-Face obviously, but since we are a very distributed company (our team is spread in 7 countries!), we rely extensively on Skype and GoToMeeting. From time-to-time, I also like to use Skype Videos - except when my correspondant in California (9h behind me) still wears his pyjama obviously.

What's your favorite way of managing your todo's?
It keeps changing :) the only stable process I've been using is to consider e-mails in my Google Mail's Inbox to be TODOs until they are archived. For non-email related todo's, I've been using plenty of tools, and I have to admit nothing beats a small piece of paper on my desk.

If you could make a wish for a job at your favorite company: What would that be?
I have absolutely no idea, I really like what I am currently doing at CloudBees.

You're programming in Java. Why?
Because it was hip and fun back at the end of the 90's and a lot of the projects at my school had to be done in Java. So I guess I was just part of the Java wave to start with. But I decided to stick to it because I think the innovation that has been put in the JVM makes it the strongest most complete runtime platform ever built. Also, from a business standpoint, SUN has been able to create one of the most successful IT ecosystem that ever existed, with not just partners, but also with competitors aiming at improving the overal quality of the Java ecosystem - and this is truly unique.

What's least fun with Java?
The weight it took over time and its startup overhead. Yet, now that the JVM is über-efficient, I think a lot of the innovation is taking place in specific frameworks and new languages, and not so much in Java-as-a-language per se, and that's fine I guess, but it would be great to see more of that innovation come back into this shared DNA that the Java language is. For this, Oracle has to find a way to get all people around the table to actively collaborate again.

If you could change one thing with Java, what would that be?
The lack of a proper CLR in Java early on has slowed down the creation of new languages, hence new innovation, some which could have been retrofitted in Java.

What's your personal favorite in dynamic languages?
I know that if I wanted to look smart I should tell you all about the sophisticated and fancy dynamic languages out there, but I actually think that the HTML5 environment, with JavaScript, CSS, DOM, JSON is amazingly powerful - we are truly moving away from server-side generated pages for the most part.

Which programming technique has moved you forwards most and why?
To me, developing in the cloud has been the most impressive experience. In just a few click from a laptop, you can start a new project, store your code, perform continuous development, continuous deployment, static code analysis, web UI testing, etc. without ever installing anything, without ever having to configure anything. When people initially read about PaaS, they don't necessarily see what's the big deal about it. Until they try it! Once you've tried it, it is hard to look back, it is like asking a Samsung S3 or iPhone 4S owner to go back and use a fancy 2005 Nokia - it hurts.

What was the biggest project you've ever worked on?
JBoss AS was probably the biggest one. In the 2.x to 4.x series, I really knew a lot about it. As such, I really enjoyed doing technical support when JBoss was still a tiny company. Trying to understand what was going wrong for a customer was like a mini-adventure.

Which was the worst programming mistake you did?
I don't remember, I am probably still in denial about it...

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