Archive for category Sun

My Favorite Sun Microsystems Memory

In honor of the close of the Sun Microsystems acquisition, here’s my all time favorite tribute to Sun & specifically the people I was lucky enough to work closely with — the brilliant, hard-working, fun folks who built & managed Sun’s primary web properties.

Many thanks to Tim Caynes, User Experience Extraordinaire, for creating the following.



Exiting the Sun Ride

[Cross post from my final entry on my Sun Microsystems blog]…

Today is my last day at Sun. It has been a thrilling ride and one that I would do all over again. I’ve learned a lot, worked with some of the most brilliant people on the planet, worked for the world’s best management team who was more than willing to accommodate my requests to work on programs that most inspired me & happy to give me room to get my groove on, and now…I walk away with more experience and friends than I ever imagined I’d acquire through a job. I kicked butt & had fun! (I hope someone creates a tee-shirt for that McNealy-ism.)

Hands down, my favorite role (ever) is the one I am now exiting. Being your tour guide for Sun’s community sites (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.) went beyond just a job — it became an obsession. I was lucky enough to work directly with tens of thousands of Sun fans worldwide & Sun employees in every organization and in every rank in the company — from interns to our CEO. I’ve enjoyed every minute & every conversation (well, minus the spammers, trolls, & an unnamed executive blogger who asked me to air brush his mustache off his profile picture).

While it makes me sad that this is my last blog post on this site, I welcome change and wish my Sun fellows well as they embark on the next incarnation of Sun. “Thank you” to each of you for such fond memories — especially those who helped make the community sites such thriving & robust communities. It’s no wonder Sun is seen as a pioneer in this space and a poster child for corporate social media done right.

The world is a whole lot more connected thanks to social sites, so there’s no need to say good-bye — I’m just right here, here, here & here. I have a few irons in the fire & will be sure to keep you posted on my next big thing. 🙂

To new beginnings!


Venue needed: Nov 19th Colorado Front Range Girl Geek Dinner

DeirdrĂ© Straughan kicked off a Facebook wall post requesting help with finding a Denver based venue for the November 19th Colorado Front Range Girl Geek Dinner. Per DeirdrĂ© “Venue could be a dinner or drinks-and-appetizers kind of place, I don’t have strong feelings about it but suspect a place with room to mingle is best.”

This is a fantastic networking opportunity for attendees & a great outreach opportunity for a company who may be interested in hosting/sponsoring the event. The last dinner, hosted at the Sun Microsytems Broomfield campus, had move than 80 attendees. Sun was generous enough to provide food & drinks (approx cost ~$1500). As of this post, there are 131 members in the Colorado Front Range Girl Geek Dinner Facebook group, so it’s reasonable to expect an even larger crowd at the next dinner.

If you’re interested in hosting the event and/or becoming a member of the Colorado Front Range Girl Geek Dinner group, you can do so via the Facebook page.


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Checking off the “Be a guest blogger” box

Since my 1st official blog post 5+ years ago, I’ve been a sole blogger (only blogger contributing to a blog), a soul blogger ;-), a group blogger, a behind-the-scenes blog helper (for friends, interesting people & high profile people with a blogphobia), a blog trainer, a blog site admin, but never an invited guest blogger…until now!

Thanks to another “serendipitous connection via social networking”, as I call it, I can now sport around the badge titled “Guest Blogger”. It all started when @KylePLacy, Author of Twitter Marketing for Dummies, tweeted the following to me “I really think you should do a guest post on my blog. What do you think?” To which I responded “What if my neglected blog finds out? What did you have in mind?”.

I went with a topic that is often discussed: Corporate Social Media Policies — something Sun, specifically the Sun Blog Founders, nailed several years ago and continues to be a solid template for other companies social media policies. Have a look at the guest post “Do Tight Corporate Social Media Policies Help or Hinder?” & let me know what you think.

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Embracing Social Communities: A CIO’s Crib Sheet

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Bob Worrall, Sun’s Chief Information Officer, and my all time favorite marketing goddess, Mary Smaragdis, about how Sun builds community and enables collaboration via social networking tools. Have a look…

Social networks are everywhere — but what do they really mean to the CIO? Our experts discuss the implications, the opportunities, and the trends.

There’s no question that social networking has permeated our lives as CIOs — both on a personal front as we use these forums for communicating, and on a professional front as we put systems and policies in place to manage our organizations’ use of these communities. For my column this month, I’ve invited two social community experts within Sun to join me to discuss this phenomenon and what it means for CIOs. Mary Smaragdis, Director of Sun News Network and New and Social Media, manages Sun’s corporate activities in social media spaces, user-generated content spaces, and virtual worlds. Linda Skrocki, Sr. Engineering Program Manager for Sun’s high-volume external-facing community web properties, is involved with running Sun’s high-volume Web properties.

Bob: Mary, let’s start with you. How are you defining the social community space in your role?

Mary: The social community space is about first-person conversations on the network. Within Sun’s social community spaces, people are conversing about their work and their passions around work. They use these platforms to engage their stakeholders, whether they are customers, prospects, media, or others. The network dramatically elevates these conversations so that they reach huge potential audiences.

Linda: My responsibility is to enable those conversations Mary just described. When we open up a conversation to the marketplace, we need to have the toolsets to enable it. Sun has a variety of social community participants — some are very savvy technology-wise and are comfortable with social media tools. Others aren’t. So we provide tools and training to maximize peoples’ time with these media. Social networking, blogging, and wikis aren’t for everyone all of the time. And while we have a very liberal policy, we have usage guidelines so that people learn when it’s appropriate to use a blog as opposed to a wiki, for example. Because of this safety net, employees feel comfortable having organic conversations in the marketplace — which I think has been a huge factor in our success in this space.

Bob: What guidance do you give when adoption of these tools varies based on geography, language or even age?

Mary: Social media sites like Facebook and MySpace are most well-known in the U.S., but there are dozens of social media platforms around the world. As a CIO looking to extend your conversations to these places, you’ll want to understand the equation for adoption on the different platforms in different geographies.

As for age, MySpace and Facebook started out in a younger demographic, but have moved beyond the millennials. Certainly younger age groups have been more liberal with putting their information out there. Older age groups still tend to be cautious. This is a big transition — much like email was — and people are becoming more comfortable with how it works. This is just the next evolution of communication tools — for business and social communication — and there is definitely an adoption curve across geographies and age demographics.

Bob: What are some benefits of embracing social communities in terms of engaging customers, prospects, and investors?

Linda: has proven to be a powerful tool for Sun employees (tech writers, engineers, etc.), who are globally distributed, to collaboratively create and iterate technical and program-specific content with customers, partners, and other members of the community who share common interests. has been an amazing success story for Sun. One of the primary reasons is because we’ve created a set of guidelines for employees to follow, thereby keeping Sun and the employees out of trouble. Over 10% of our company is blogging. We have 4,500 bloggers who have posted 137,000 entries. Within those entries, we have 153,000 comments, which tells us that there really is a two-way conversation happening.

Another success area is which is one of our oldest and biggest communities. This is where people interested in Sun products can converse and help each other. It is a community-driven environment for users to get quick answers and engage with other users who share a commonality — usage of a particular technology for example. Over 4 million messages by approximately 1 million contributors are posted there.

Mary: To add some numbers to that, in the past 12 months, Sun’s bloggers have pulled in more than 8.3 million unique visitors. has seen more than 15 million unique visitors.

Bob: Those bring home some powerful examples of how these technologies can benefit both companies and individuals. I know from my own IT staff that blogs, wikis, and forums, even Twitter, allow them to reach support groups that otherwise they may have had to pay for, so we’re certainly using these technologies to drive down costs.

Once a company has decided to engage in social communities, what are the areas a CIO needs to think about as they begin preparing their organization?

Mary: There are two areas that are critical to success. The first is determining, as an organization, if you are prepared to be good contributors. Do you have a clear understanding of what the thresholds are, what the guidelines are? Sun’s guidelines of public disclosure have been held up as a benchmark and I encourage folks to take a look. The other key area is the infrastructure itself. How is it architected? Do you build it or host it yourself or outsource?

Linda: I agree. Policy-wise, it is important to identify your risk and transparency tolerances. You must keep in mind that this is part of your brand. Identify how often you are going to participate from a time-investment standpoint and then get training and evangelism to support that. Then, you need to analyze what kind of infrastructure you want. Do you need full control over your scalability, uptime, performance, feature set, and data or can you get by with using third party provided services? Can you afford to not have full control over your data and the availability of your site? Could you afford to lose all your data if someone else controlled it and lost it?

Bob: That brings up a good point. Many people consider these tools to not have critical business value and place them in the category of “interesting.” My advice, for all the reasons just brought up, is to treat them as mission-critical business applications, if for no other reason than issues of privacy and data control.

For the average CIO, who are the key stakeholders across the company that you should get engaged with as you adopt social media strategies and policies?

Mary: Definitely your CEO, because he/she can influence the success of your program. Jonathan Schwartz set a positive tone early on with bloggers. He blogged in a very open manner and left his comments section open for folks to read. We also engaged our privacy folks as well as folks in trademarks, export, legal, and HR.

Bob: What are some common pitfalls you’ve seen?

Linda: People sometimes forget that these tools are for organic conversations — not one-way publishing platforms for contrived messaging. Trying to over-control or command the conversations of a community would be considered misuse.

Bob: What is the trajectory both for CIOs and businesses at large as they think about this space?

Mary: These trends are well-entrenched and will continue to grow in the trajectories we’ve seen. The models we have for communicating and collaborating are increasingly becoming anchored around technology. The choices CIOs make will have ever-increasing reach in terms of how future models need to be anchored. This will be the way we communicate, collaborate, exchange, and engage in commerce for a very long time.

Linda: And I would add that people need to be open to new technologies. Blogging came out and people loved it. Then micro-blogging came out. Once that happened, there was a question about whether blogging still had a place. There still is a place for those more in-depth conversations. You can only say so much in 140 characters. My advice is to be open and try the new social technologies as they come along, but don’t feel compelled to use every one.

Bob: That’s terrific advice because one thing is certain — change. Twitter may be big today, but something new is around the corner. So my advice is the same — stay open to new ideas and technologies and stay abreast of what’s going on in the marketplace.

Thank you all for joining me this month. Until next time,

Bob Worrall

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Community Moderation: A Success Story

Sun Forums is one of Sun’s longest running community sites. It’s been around for ~8 years. It’s grown by leaps and bounds and continues to be one of our most active sites. There are currently more than 4 million messages posted by nearly 1 million contributors. The site see ~44 million page views annually (or 3.7 million/month) — amazing traffic & volumes of rich community-driven content.

While the majority of contributions are positive, as with any community site, there are going to be occasional disruptions in the form of derailed conversations, abusive posts, etc. We struggled a bit with implementing a protocol that would scale to effectively manage this issue.

As a collaborative effort between the team that manages the Sun Forums, the Sun Legal team and the Sun Forums Community, a sensible Community Moderation Program was defined, then implemented on January 26th, 2007. Since then, via the same collaborative effort, the program has been fine-tuned.

In addition to our community nominated volunteer moderators generously sharing useful information with their peers and helping to set a positive tone throughout the Sun Forums, they’ve also leveraged the site’s community moderators features to take the following actions in response to content that violate site terms or are simply posted in the wrong forum:

  • Blocked 793 accounts
  • Blocked 2,391 messages
  • Quarantined 2,768 threads
  • Moved 941 threads to better align with various forums topics


Many thanks to the community members who helped define the Moderators Program and special thanks to the eight volunteer moderators (dcminter, kajbj, PhHein, yawmark, ejp, Darryl.Burke, sabre150, and cotton.m (alumni)) for giving so generously of your time and for making such an awesome difference to the site & the community in general!

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Free Cloud Webinar Sept 1st: “Protecting Your Services in the Cloud”

If cloud security is weighing heavily on your mind lately, you may find the following interesting:

Safety First: Protecting Your Services in the Cloud

Join us for a free webinar in which we’ll explore one of the leading impediments to the widespread adoption of Cloud Computing — security concerns. Given all of the hyped up claims and gross generalizations flowing across the Net, it’s no wonder people are worried.

Cloud Computing and security both are multi-faceted areas, and it’s high time we stopped thinking of them as a single entity. If you want to take a serious look at Cloud Computing, then it is time to inject a little sanity and context into the security discussion.

Join us for this free webinar to learn how to begin using Cloud Computing — securely.

In this webinar, we will discuss:

  • Key questions to ask your cloud provider
  • Security issues to consider before moving to the cloud
  • Steps you can take today to protect yourself in the cloud

Event: Safety First: Protecting Your Services in the Cloud
Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Time: 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT / 19.00 CET

Speaker: Glenn Brunette, Distinguished Engineer and Chief Security Architect at Sun Microsystems

For over 15 years, Glenn has designed and delivered security architectures and solutions supporting a wide array of global customers. Currently, he has focused his efforts on improving security for cloud computing and other highly dynamic and scalable architectures.

  • Bring your questions to the live Q&A.
  • Even if you can’t make the live event, sign up anyway so we can send you the replay information.


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