In this interview, java.net community manager Marla Parker speaks with Sun's Sandeep Konchady about Mural, a community to provide open source solutions to data management problems.
Coding and community-building for college credit
The Mural project is building a community to provide open source solutions to data management problems. It's also allowing college students to contribute to the project as part of their coursework. In this interview, java.net community manager Marla Parker speaks with Sun's Sandeep Konchady about the opportunity Mural offers.
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
Q: What are the students at SJSU doing with
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
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
Building the Community
Q: How did you match the students with the Mural team in
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
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
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
Q: What is your involvement with the students'
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
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
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
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
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.
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