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Jim Glenn Interview

by Paul Everitt last modified 2006-01-20 19:06

Jim Glenn was my boss in the Navy from 1991-1993, back when I first got started with internetworking. I was a young junior officer with more ideas than common sense. Jim, who was the Navy's "Internet Manager" before anybody knew what that meant, was the perfect mentor and the best boss I ever had.

When I decided to start a "People of Zope" series of interviews, I wanted to make the first selection symbolic and special. It was an easy choice.

Jim Glenn was my boss in the Navy from 1991-1993, back when I first got started with internetworking. I was a young junior officer with more ideas than common sense. Jim, who was the Navy's "Internet Manager" before anybody knew what that meant, was the perfect mentor and the best boss I ever had.

He also had an important role in advising and supporting Connecting Minds, which became Digital Creations, which became Zope Corporation.

1) Tell us about your job and the kinds of things you do on a monthly basis.

I am the first line supervisor for a Branch known as the Internet Branch of a Navy command whose responsiblity (mission) is to provide the latest in Information Technology solutions to the war fighter. On a monthly basis I work toward providing the best solutions for the money to my customer base, this being the challenge in a non-mission funded environment. I have expanded our service from operations (web services, networking) to prototyping and integration.

2) When did you first realize that you would have a career in computers?

In 1970, during first year of college, my supervisor suggested I look at the computer field. Like any good youngster I ignored this advice until I was a junior in college working toward a mathematics degree and found that I had a personality and this did not fit the average mathematician of the early 70's. I then panicked and started looking for a place to use my math. The university then placed me into a computer trainee position with the Navy.

3) Through the Navy, your participation in standards, networks, and open source goes back a long way. Give us some historical perspective.

I have been with the Navy since March of 1973. I worked with standards in databases as early as 1974. I also worked with the attempt at standardization of programming languages during the early days of COBOL implementation. Through all of this work I became a sounding board for the integration and review of standards in a real operational setting.

This continued after my move into the telecommunications field in 1978. I had the unique opportunity to work with AT&T Bell Labs, IBM and UNIVAC with hardware standards and the first attempt at application standards in an open environment. This progressed into being a working group member of the Defense Data Network and unveiling the protocols being used to give the impression of standards and then helping to choose the protocols for the replacement to DDN (TCP/IP).

What are the strengths and limits of neutral collaboration?

Strengths: Better development during the requirements definition stage. Limits: Time it takes to get a standard to market without a proprietary leader, a good example is Microsoft.

4) Most Zope people aren't aware it, but you are one half of the pair that kept Zope alive in the early years (Hadar Pedhazur being the other). What did you see in the Zope story that warranted such attention?

This question comes at a very good time. Let me explain, I am currently changing my branch to a new core service of writing and execting an Enterprise Architecture (EA). This study, with its documentation, is being mandated by Congress as a requirement to get funding passed by 2005.

What this means and how Zope comes into play is that we were in a similar movement (TQL) back in the early 90's and I look at this step today as the next phase of that movement. The Navy as a whole has downsized and rightsized and streamlined until we have fragmented most of our business processes. The EA study is intened to document and thus allow an organization a chance to fix broken processes. These processes are not all IT in nature but in those areas that can use automation, either to upgrade or to replace with automation, the integrators need tools that are easy to use, standard and fast.

The key idea is fast. When we began with Zope and its pre-Zope packages, we were providing the new paradigm of reacting to a customers need quickly. The reason we were pushing Zope, however, is due to the nature of the package. It wasn't just a cool tool but provided the standardization for accessing databases, presentation of data and coupling unlike applications into a real portal technology. Out of this implementation strategy that Zope brought to the table, industry has coined several terms ( knowledge management, portals, role-based access) that enabled other companies to put their spin on products. I contend we had this technology at the first implementation of PyDB.

5) Much of the Zope world is now outside the U.S. Can you give us a feel for open source in the U.S. government?

Open source has taken a back seat to security and homeland defense. The US has decided it best to own software at cost (so we can sue) versus open market.

Contact Info For Jim Glenn

Jim Glenn
J561 Internet Branch
SPAWAR SSC Charleston
Pensacola Office
(850) 452-7579
DSN 922-7579
e-mail: [email protected]
        [email protected]