Saturday Feb 23, 2008

Open Communications

Chattin' with OpenSUSE's Zonker. Barton George talks with OpenSUSE's new Community Manager, Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier. I like some of the things Joe says about community development -- the importance of communications so you can get the word out, competition vs cooperation so you understand how to balance interests and expand the community for all, and getting the necessary tools in place so your community can grow. And OpenSolaris gets a nice plug for how we launched the project three years ago (the engineering blog launch, I mean). Nice talk.

Rapid Response Counterattack

McCain turns tables on Times. An interesting read about how the McCain forces jumped all over the Times the other day. This is standard procedure, of course, but it really depends on how well you execute (and that execution always makes interesting reading) and if your enemy responds in kind. Politicians know that in terms of public perception you can absolutely influence by going negative, hitting hard, using overwhelming force, and yelling with extreme language. The purpose is to intimidate. If the other side counters, well, then you have a brawl. If they hesitate, though, you've got them. That's the critical part that comes through in this article. The Times found itself responding to its own article and responding late. Now, this is politics so truth is not really that important, and I have no opinion about the substance of the article or the counter attack (nor do I particularly care about either). What I find fascinating, though, is the dynamic of influence and how large organizations of people can be rapidly moved to action. What are the techniques? What foundational work is necessary beforehand so a message resonates? Anyway, the LA Times talks about some of this, too: McCain story proves incendiary among journalists, conservatives

Thursday Feb 14, 2008

Pink Dots and Green Cash

Can Sun turn downloads into dollars?: "Even if you can't say that each pink dot equals $372, I think the things Sun has been doing with open source and OpenSolaris and Java and so forth have translated into improved relevancy and an improved perception of Sun, and at some level, logic suggests that this played a role in their improved financial picture." -- Gordon Haff, Illuminata

Wednesday Feb 13, 2008

Trademarks Update

The OGB published Sun's position on the trademark issue -- [ogb-discuss] Sun's Responses to the OpenSolaris Trademark Questions. The Trademark Usage and Branding Guidelines Wiki was also updated. Subscribe to trademark-policy-dev to participate in the conversation. The trademark list and project are sponsored by the Advocacy CG

Tuesday Feb 12, 2008

Open Source at Ten

State of Open Source Message: A New Decade For Open Source: "In building our Open Source campaign, we were standing on the shoulders of a giant. Starting in the early 1980's, Richard Stallman blazed the trail with his philosophy of Free Software  and the creation of the GNU System,  which, most notably when it was combined with the Linux kernel, changed the way software works forever." -- Bruce Perens, commenting on the first decade of Open Source.

Monday Feb 11, 2008

Everyone Marketing

Forget the A-List After All: "Evangelism is not about sucking up to only people who are famous and self-important. To wit, few Fortune 500 CIOs helped make Macintosh successful. It was unknown artists, designers, hobbyists, and user-group members who made Macintosh successful, and we could have not identified them in advance." -- Guy Kawasaki, commenting on Clive Thompson's in FastCompany article, "Is the Tipping Point Toast?"

That FastCompany article is great. If you are at all interested in marketing or communications or community building I highly recommend it. The article outlines research from Duncan Watts that basically says we all have influence, not just the special people, and some much of what happens is random. Thompson says, "Influentials don't govern person-to-person communication. We all do." A little democracy in marketing? Cool.

Monday Jan 28, 2008

The Disruptive Nature of Open Source

Gartner on Sun's Acquisition of MySQL: "Sun has long recognized the disruptive nature of open source and is now leveraging that power as part of their overall strategy. Obviously, that's not new news. Sun has been doing this for several years with OpenSolaris, GlassFish, NetBeans, open sourcing Java, etc." -- Zack Urlocker

Thursday Dec 27, 2007

A Cooperative Competitive Environment

Sun's Game: Friends Close, Microsoft Closer: "Sun Microsystems has been making great headway in the OSS community lately: nearly every piece of software it distributes is open source, everything is free, and OpenSolaris is really building a large community."  -- Charlie Schluting, Enterprise Networking Planet

The piece then goes on to explore why Sun and Microsoft cut their deal earlier this year. To me, it's simple: good business. Charlie then ends with this: "Sun is increasingly moving toward a more cooperative competitive environment." I agree. 

Wednesday Dec 26, 2007

Globalizing Tokyo

Japan set for radical reform of markets: "There is a lot that is good in there," said a representative for a foreign bank. "It's not the end of the story. They need to keep doing more to globalise Tokyo as a financial centre." -- Financial Times

Encouraging more industries in Tokyo to think and act globally is a good idea for Japan. Many of Japan`s companies are global, sure, but the pervading attitude around the place is most certainly not global. I find China far more open to the west from a business perspective (and it ain`t even close). And many people agree. That`s why this set of reforms has been released by the government. Of course, they could call the guys at Toyota and Honda for a little advice. I`m serious.

Don`t Gloat

Toyota sees bright future as world number one -- "Toyota has been careful not to gloat about its success in the United States, fearing a protectionist backlash of the type seen when Japanese automakers first seriously penetrated the market in the 1980s." -- AFP

I think this is a good marketing strategy, but with Toyota it`s more than that. The company is more focused on being profitable, building great cars, and carefully expanding into emerging global markets (China, Brazil, Russia) then they are on beating the competition. They know what comes first.

Saturday Dec 22, 2007

Focus on Profitability, not Market Share and Competitors

The 'Myth of Market Share': Can Focusing Too Much on the Competition Harm Profitability? -- "We're not saying companies shouldn't pay attention to their competitors; they might be doing reasonable things that you may also want to do. What we're saying is that the objective should not be to try to beat your competitor. The objective should be profitability. In view of all the damage that occurs by focusing on market share, companies would be better off not measuring it." -- J. Scott Armstrong, Wharton marketing professor.

And interesting examples of this concept cited in the article include Japan's Toyota and Canon.

Friday Dec 21, 2007

Building OpenSolaris Communities

OpenSolaris is a community of communities, and building those communities takes time and effort. No way around it. Throwing code over the wall and walking away is a lost opportunity to engage developers and users around the world. Currently, the biggest OpenSolaris community lives on opensolaris.org, but even that community is now made up of many smaller communities in the form of Community Groups, Projects, and User Groups. And then there are other nascent communities starting up with websites in emerging markets and even entire distributions that don't necessarily have direct connections to the operations on opensolaris.org. OpenSolaris is no longer monolithic and based on one geography. It's growing and diversifying globally.

As Sun moves closed development projects to the open on opensolaris.org or just starts new projects from scratch in the open, many people ask, "How do we build a community?" and/or "Why should we build a community?" and/or "How do we grow?" Well, here's my shot at answering those questions from a non-technical perspective. The list of issues below is not necessarily comprehensive (and we don't necessarily do some of these things particularly well), but it's just a set of issues to consider if you want to build a community of people around your stuff.

Building a Community
  1. Planning & Building: The first thing to realize is that building a community is an active and cyclical process of planning and implementation. Some people balk at that notion. They believe communities ought to grow organically. But I suspect most communities actually grow based on active participants directly engaging new people and managing resources from diverse sources including corporate, foundation, and individual. Also, I believe the concept of community building is based largely on two simple principles: (1) open communications and (2) open development. Basically, working in the open and talking in the open. And if you really want to grow big, you'll need to do three things really well: (1) talk to a lot of people all the time, (2) include them in your work, and (3) provide ways for them to contribute back by creating and sharing their work with others. Then the process of working itself helps build community because it generates more communications and more work. And around you go. But active building starts with a plan. Write one. Then start building. Then update your plan. Repeat.

  2. Transparency: Get outside. You can't build a community from behind a firewall. Conversations, lists, source code, binaries, documentation, tools, people, infrastructure, artwork -- get it outside so everyone has a fair shot at engaging and contributing. If there is nothing to gather around, then no one will gather and you will not have a community. And if you are only talking inside, no one on the outside will know you even exist. This is the single biggest mistake people at Sun make. They try to live in two worlds. You can't. Decide. Are you open or not.

  3. Participation: Communities are about direct participation and the building of trust relationships. That means people earn their way based on their contributions, and there is an expectation of opportunity and openness. You can also look at this issue as the distinction between a community and a program. Most programs are one way -- usually going from a company to a market. But communities are two ways (many ways, actually), and involve just as much coming in as going out. Also, participation is really about doing, not talking. Those who do get to lead, and those are the people whose voice is heard above all others. You earn your credibility based on the work you contribute to the community, not the title you have from your company. If you want people to stick around, you will have to embrace this concept and enable them to participate.

  4. Contributions: Define the contributions you are looking for. Give general categories and specific examples and expect the community to offer more examples and things you hadn't even thought of (that's the goal, actually). Here is a list of contributions that OpenSolaris community members have been involved with -- code, scripts, tests, help, presentations, user groups, conference management, language portals, translations, university courses, graphics, ads, training materials, screencasts, videos, websites, wikis, evangelism, documentation, articles, blogs, podcasts, development process, tutorials, input methods, feedback, language compression tools, SCM tools, re-writing closed binaries, defect tracking system, shells, distributions, books, ports, governance. Etc. Although many of those items are technical, some are not, and most do not involve kernel code. In other words, think about a variety of contributions you want to encourage, and then let that list grow in the open. Then when things start coming in, point out the people who are contributing. You want to always call attention to contributions, but do so in an understated way. In most communities, everyone knows who is really contributing because work speaks louder than words, and the contributors are generally working with each other in the open. But it doesn't hurt to thank people once and a while.

  5. Presentations: The biggest problem with most technical presentations is that they are painfully long, and they focus too much on describing the technology itself. That's fine for a classroom or an interactive tutorial session. But the act of building a community is actually not about technology. It's about people. So, explain your technology, sure, but focus much more on how developers and users can get involved and contribute to the technology and community and how that benefits everyone. Most technical presentations have one slide at the end with a list of lists to join. That's not enough. It can't be an after thought. Make it core.

  6. Conferences: You have to go to conferences. Sun runs various conferences, but you need to go to non-Sun FOSS events as well. Both have value but both are different. Also, don't feel you have to always present at conferences. Participating in the sessions, hallway conversations, BOFs, and parties is just as important as presenting formal papers. Just being there is critical. You'll need a mix of face-to-face and online interactions to create a feeling of community. But don't miss the opportunity to do a rapid-fire lightning talk! Most good conferences offer these opportunities. And add user groups to your list of conferences. Go to them and/or start them. If you start a user group, do it in a bar or cafe or something. Start small and social, and let the technical presentations grow slowly as more people bring their own experiences to the group. And don't feel you have to always have a big technical presentation with a 100 people in the room each month. That's not realistic. Maybe try technical sessions quarterly but meet monthly in a bar for food and beer and then discuss things on a mailing list in between meetings. Start small and look for ways to build tradition through repeated experiences. Over time a little culture will soon develop, and that is the glue that will hold your user group together.

  7. Development Process and Infrastructure: If you are going to build a community, you ought to spend some time figuring out the physical infrastructure you'll need to support all the people you want. Will it scale? What development process is needed for accepting contributions? What testing is needed? Do you offer a sandbox for experimentation? What tools are necessary to host the project's artifacts? Who has access? This all depends if you want to host on opensolaris.org or on another site, and whether you are running a community group, a user group, or a development project. The higher end code contributors will always be small in number, and those are the guys who have to figure out the tools they'll need. However, non-coders should be involved in these discussions at least partially, so that your infrastructure is built to accommodate a wide variety of contributions.

  8. Leadership, Governance, Culture: What are your community's values? What will the social structure look like? How will your community run itself? How will you make decisions? What is your leadership model? How will you call attention to contributors? How do you resolve conflicts? These are questions that need addressing whenever any large group of people comes together to collaborate around anything. When you are small, you can manage this easily in your head, but when you grow globally you need to document the behavior you want to encourage and set some rules around how to manage it all. It doesn't have to be all pervasive and bureaucratic, but people need to know what you stand for and what you expect. Perhaps a single strong leader is appropriate, but you may want to consider other options of distributed leadership mechanisms as well. Look at other communities such as Mozilla, Linux, Apache, Ruby, Java and the BSDs for examples. Actually, there are many others, but those are some of the bigger open source software communities.

  9. Universities: If you want to grow, you need to go back to school and hang out with young people. Get your project in front of students and professors at universities in emerging markets first. Start with India and China for obvious reasons. But don't neglect the established markets as well. University visits are probably the single best way to ensure that your project has a shot at surviving the future. Neglecting universities is not an option. It needs to be a top priority. By the way, this will probably be the most fun part of your community building operations.

  10. Global: Build your community with a global perspective in mind. Where are the developers who would be interested in your stuff? Go there. A lot. When you go global, though, you will run into all sorts of interesting language and cultural issues that will slow you down. Expect it. Look for people who can help build the community in a given location, and then work to connect multiple locations together. You will not have "one" community around the world, so don't expect everyone to just follow you (or even understand you). You will have many communities, and they will express their own independence quite differently. Your job is to encourage them to be as independent as necessary, but also to help them connect to other regions so they can participate in the meta community. This is not easy, by the way. But it's necessary. And it can be a source of really innovative contributions as emerging markets develop.

  11. Marketing: Get to know your marketing people. They can help publicize your project formally at conferences or within press/analyst operations or at customer meetings. And they can offer a perspective you may have not considered on important issues, such as trademarks, branding, launches, announcements, leaks, and market disruptions. You don't necessarily know what the press is saying about you, right? Would more exposure help? What are the competitive issues marketing sees that you don't? Also, participate in special programs Sun occasionally runs, such as coding contests and events. Sun has other developer programs and web sites that all welcome content and participation. Leverage the company's global resources this way. By the way, humility and honesty are the best techniques for doing effective open source marketing. Keep that in mind as you publicize your stuff.

  12. Advocacy: This is much bigger than marketing and it's somewhat different as well. This is not about specific marketing disciplines such as advertising, marketing, branding, PR, or AR. Instead, it's about direct, unfiltered engagement at a level that leads to active participation and contribution. It's about community building via open communications. Now, that includes marketing, sure, but it also includes engineering and project managers -- and anyone else who wants to get involved. Also, you are the best advocate for your work. So you need to assume the direct responsibility of communicating in your own way. You will be leveraging other resources for this, but ultimately you are responsible for your own bottom line -- which in this case means growing your community and advocating your technology. Don't just give this function to someone and walk away. Be involved.

  13. Legal Issues: This is mostly internal to Sun as you open previously closed code and tools. But even when you are open, you need to consider trademarks, copyright, contributor agreements, licensing, source analysis, etc. These things will not necessarily help your community grow, but they can certainly stop things jet fast if you don't consider them at all. Get to know your lawyers. Teach them about the needs of the community, and ask them to teach you the realities of the law. The education here should go both ways.

  14. Project Management: As your community grows, it will surely contain multiple engineering projects and user activities around the world. Who will run these complex operations? Who will manage the plan and keep the metrics and roadmaps updated? Who will alert you to the organizational politics that you will surely encounter? So, you may want to hunt around for a good project manager to help facilitate things. Just as engineers should build community in the open, so too should project managers. If you look at your project in the broadest possible context, you'll see that it touches many diverse disciplines both inside and outside the firewall, and that will affect how you build your community. 

  15. Have Fun: And finally, building a community is ultimately a social exercise, so people should have fun as they participate. You want to draw people to your community, right? You want to encourage people to stick around, right? Make it fun to hang out. Give people the opportunity to have fun and they will.



OpenSolaris References:

Constitution | Community Groups | Projects | Website lead reference | Contributing | Values | Development Process | Development Reference | Advocacy & User Groups | Code Contributors

Books on Open Source, Licensing, and Community Development:

The Cathedral and the Bazaar Eric Raymond | Innovation Happens Elsewhere Ron Goldman, Richard P. Gabriel | Open Source & Free Software Licensing Andrew M. St. Laurent | Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom & Intellectual Property Law Lawrence Rosen | Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution Oreilly | Open Sources 2.0 The Continuing Evolution Oreilly | Free as in Freedom Richard Stallman

Post updated: 12/26/07, 12/27/07, 4/28/08, 5/16/08

Sunday Nov 18, 2007

Smart Marketing, Competitive Marketing

Sun has run aggressive, very pointed marketing campaigns promoting the benefits of its system over Dell, HP and others. But today in a follow-up media briefing, Schwartz said, "The stupidest thing we could do is say 'You blew it, you made a mistake'" buying Dell. Schwartz said such hardball marketing is a thing of the past for Sun. He even went so far as to suggest customers could use the $5,000 they might save adopting Sun's free Solaris and xVM software "to buy a brand-new Dell server." -- David Needle, internetnews.com

Well, that must have been an interesting press conference, eh? My goodness. Very cool.

I'm happy to see these changes in Sun's external communications to customers. It's far smarter than the bulldog public attack tactics we used to do. When I was in marketing (before I joined the OpenSolaris engineering team) I wasted several years of my career doing that stuff around standards and open source and Java. Heck, I even won an award for it! Embarrassing. Based on that experience, though, and four years of working in the OpenSolaris Community (where such nonsense is not tolerated), I can see clearly that those activities were counterproductive. It made Sun less competitive and less respected and less credible. But even if this so-called "hardball" marketing is going away, it doesn't mean we are any less competitive in the marketplace. In fact, Sun's product portfolio is probably more competitive today than it has ever been, and we are cutting interesting deals and moving faster than anyone even realizes.

Are we still making mistakes? Sure. But we are people, so you can expect that. And although our communications to the market is improving, I think we as a company still have to improve our communications to the various developer communities we are involved with. As our engineering opens, so too must our communications. The two functions are directly related, and right now too much of both lives inside of the firewall. We'll get there, though. It's a fine line to balance corporate interests with community interests, and there's no rulebook for doing this on the scale we are attempting. In fact, I can't think of a multi-national corporation that has done as much in this area. Can you?

Wednesday Oct 31, 2007

The Name

Seems the naming conversation for the new Indiana distribution is coming to fruition --  Project Indiana and the OpenSolaris name. It will be called "OpenSolaris Developer Preview" and it's coming soon. Cool. Even more importantly, though, is Ian's suggestion that everyone "continue working together as a community to develop a set of branding guidelines so that other distributions may also use the OpenSolaris brand...."

Friday Oct 05, 2007

Mark's Musings

Very cool to see my buddy Mark Herring out there blogging -- Mark's Musings. Mark is one of the very best marketers at Sun, and his blog could be very hot very soon.

Friday Sep 28, 2007

User Group Movements: Update

Four OpenSolaris User Groups migrated to their own projects this week: London, Kansas City, Great Lakes, Sydney, and Dallas. And Melbourne, a new group, opened today as well. I updated the user group leaders table and removed the "migration" column because we are almost finished with the migrations at this point. The table is much easier to read now, too. We also have a new link to the user groups from the front page of opensolaris.org, so I hope it's easier for people to find user groups and get involved. And I streamlined the user group proposal process even further as well. It's all just one click from the front page. Next step is next Friday. That's when I delete the old User Group Community and send a final report to the OGB outlining the UG migrations and the consolidation of the Marketing Community, the Immigrants Community, and the User Group Community into the Advocacy Community Group. I can't believe this is finally almost done. Three months. Whew ...

A Simpe Code Repository

Quote: Sun packs out Solaris developer support: "Sun told The Register that Project Indiana is 'adding the concept of a distribution' to OpenSolaris, which is a 'code repository.' Apparently, OpenSolaris was always meant to be a code repository and not a free, open version of Solaris, which is what Sun had led us to believe OpenSolaris would be during the years leading up to release. Project Indiana will feature new packaging systems and Solaris features such as ZFS." -- Gavin Clarke, The Register

That's the last paragraph of Gavin's story, and he touches on some of the confusion around OpenSolaris for the past few years. There have been many community conversations on various OpenSolaris lists with "what is OpenSolaris" in the subject line, and there have been many press articles and blogs about OpenSolaris positioning it as an operating system. It is ... but it isn't. As a practical matter, the code from OpenSolaris is used to build a few distros as well as Sun's developer distro, which is called Solaris Express. (You can get all the distros here) So, in that sense, OpenSolaris is an operating system. But ... not quite. Some closed bits are used in the building process, and the resulting system built from the OpenSolaris source is not called OpenSolaris but it's called something else. So, it can get confusing if you don't deal with this every day. So, what actually is OpenSolaris then? It's source code. And a community. And a website. At the highest level, that's pretty much it.

Now, there have been some random acts of corporate messaging in the past few years around OpenSolaris, but that's normal and should be expected. The project has been opening in stages over a long period of time, and it's taken some time for everyone to understand how to explain everything. No harm, really. Every new project I've ever worked on in every industry has experienced early messaging challenges. After all, we're talking about human communication, aren't we? But what I think is really cool here is that the message that OpenSolaris is an operating system has resonated even when we have not really been pushing that within project itself. What does that mean? It means that the market has looked at our stuff, it has listened to our confusing messaging, and it's made up its mind in a generally positive way. You simply could not ask for anything more given the limitations we've been working under.

But I think things are going to get much easier. Project Indiana, for instance, will help clarify this issue as it grows into a complete system that can be customized from various source repositories and serve as a platform from which other distributions can be built. Critical engineering projects to support Indiana are install and packaging among others, and the final binary distribution should be easy to downland, install, and use. And easy to explain, too! From an engineering perspective, OpenSolaris will always be many things, but from a market positioning perspective OpenSolaris needs to be one thing so that one thing can be communicated around the world to a variety of different audiences. Once you engage the conversation on that one thing, you can drill down into the many things under the hood.

There were many reasons why some of us on the project wanted OpenSolaris to fly under the radar from a publicity perspective during our early years. This is one of them. A lot of engineering and community building work had to be done first before we could really bring the conversation and the technology to large numbers of users and developers globally. That's what's happening now. One step at a time. And you will see the site start to evolve to reflect this as well. The number of people hitting the site is really escalating and diversifying lately. We are, quite simply, maturing as a project. Hopefully, in this next phase we can learn to explain ourselves better as well. I think we will.

Friday Sep 21, 2007

The NetBeans "Attitude"

NetBeans vs. Eclipse, this time with attitude: "While I’m not switching to NetBeans (or anything else) any time soon, I do find much to admire in this new release and the philosophy behind it. I had a hard time coming up with a good word to describe this but let’s call it: the NetBeans attitude ... So what do I like about the NetBeans attitude? First, I like the attitude that NetBeans means one thing. It’s an IDE. Its entire purpose is to make life easier for developers. I’m a developer, so I’m all for anything that does that!" -- Ed Burnette, Software, gadgets and games, ZDNet

That's an interesting quote about NetBeans from an Eclipse fan. I can appreciate the quote because I agree with it. I was involved in NetBeans on the marketing side right around the time when IBM launched Eclipse. It was a wild time for the NetBeans team, but they surely taught me all about attitude. :) They were an amazing group of people back then, no question about it, and I see that little has changed in that regard. Which is very cool.

So, after reading this post I got to thinking about OpenSolaris. What's the OpenSolaris attitude? Do we have one? What's the one thing we are known for and do best? What's our attitude?

Wednesday Sep 05, 2007

Headlines! Headlines! Headlines!

Solaris raring for a fight with Linux: "And we thought it was all about peace, love, and ... Solaris. But no, Sun is gearing up for one of the classic open source battles. We've had the various Linux distributions duking it out, and we've had MySQL versus PostgreSQL. Now we're getting Solaris versus Linux, and this is a fight that I believe may actually be worth having." -- Matt Asay

Interesting.

This "battle" tone is all over the web now. I'm not sure where it started, but it seemed to flame up last night around midnight. What I find interesting is that Matt uses the phrase "we're getting Solaris versus Linux" to point to an article titled "OpenSolaris will challenge Linux says Sun" which is actually an abridged article from the more aptly titled "Sun: Coders key to Solaris' rise" published last week.

I blogged about that original article because I loved the quote in there about the OpenSolaris Community. But the version that has people all worked up today is missing eight paragraphs of text from the original. Why? Read both of them and you'll see the clear difference in tone. And why all the wild headline changes, too? Even if you read the version Matt points to you'd be hard pressed to find anything in the article to substantiate the headline. I mean, really, this is silly. Sun's Ian Murdock and Marc Hamilton were talking about how the OpenSolaris community is growing, how the technology is improving, and some of the plans we are kicking around to improve things. That's pretty much it. So, where's the war here?

Oh, and also, the OpenSolaris community isn't taking the bait, which is very cool. This is now the second or third time recently where the community has utterly ignored media and/or blog flame fests. Heck, we've had enough of our own flames in the past, so perhaps we're moving on and just focusing on the job at hand -- building the OpenSolaris community organically and improving this technology openly.

Advocacy CG Merger Update

Over the last two months we've been merging the old User Group Community, the Immigrants Community, and the Marketing Community into the new Advocacy Community Group (ACG). That operation also involves moving the 51 OpenSolaris User Groups to project spaces sponsored by the ACG. All of this history is documented in the discussions page of the Advocacy CG.

Here's a quick update:
  • Immigrants Community closed. Content moved to ACG.
  • Marketing Community closed. Content moved to ACG.
  • 34 user groups moved to projects sponsored by ACG (projects are open).
  • 13 user groups currently moving to projects (projects are still closed).
  • 4 user groups not responding to move requests yet.
  • 51 total user groups.
Thanks to the UGs who have moved so far and to Linda, Tim, and Patrick for moving their content as well. I'm sure there are a few broken links here and there, but I think I got most of them. This entire process has been 100% manual, so if you find broken stuff, just let me know. The old User Group Community will have to remain open until the remaining user groups move.

Here are the 34 user groups that have moved to their new projects (a few are teamed up with the portals, which is cool):  Argentina | Atlanta | Bangalore | Beijing | Bhimavaram | Bloomington | Capital Region | Columbus | Czech | Finland | Front Range | French | Hyderabad | Irish | Italy | Japan | Moscow | Mumbai | Netherlands | New England | New York City | Puget Sound | Pune | Russia | San Antonio | San Diego | Shanghai | Shenzhen | Silicon Valley | Singapore | Spain | St. Louis | Sweden | Switzerland

Almost done.

If you want to find an OpenSolaris user group in your area, check out the Leaders, Locations, Lists chart. And if you want to propose the creation of a new user group in your area, go to the OpenSolaris User Groups home page for details. And, of course, you can chime in on advocacy-discuss as well -- sign up, archives, forum.

Thursday Aug 30, 2007

Communicator

A blog into Schwartz's mind: "The number one role of a leader is to communicate. And the number one role of a CEO is to be the chief communicator." -- JIS

Tuesday Aug 21, 2007

Rebirth

Q&A: Jonathan Schwartz on Sun's open-source business strategy: "After spending an hour prodding Jonathan with questions about Sun's history and future with open source, I was left with one clear impression: Sun is rising, and open source is the driver behind its rebirth." -- Matt Asay

Cool. If that's the impression Matt takes away than that means Sun is much more focused these days. Matt's comments also demonstrate the value of allowing impressions to naturally follow actions rather than artificially trying to force impressions using messages up front. In our case the last few years, we said we'd open a bunch of code and then we went out and opened the three core products of the company -- Solaris, SPARC, and Java. That's a lot of code. And that's on top of all the other open engineering projects Sun started previously. So, the message resonates because we did what we said we'd do, and the conversations documenting everything are widely distributed among large numbers of people in the community. Simple formula, really. But that's why it works so well. It's genuine.

Monday Aug 06, 2007

Perspective and History

Interesting article on Project Indiana -- Indiana's Calling, Is Anyone Listening? The first sentence of the article is most fascinating for me: "Telling the story of Project Indiana is not an easy one."

Ha. I'll bet. The article then goes on to talk about how many commentators are seeing all this from the perspective of Linux. Well, of course they are, my goodness. That's been the case for several years now. In fact, this is probably the most significant messaging issue around OpenSolaris -- and Solaris, for that matter -- since we started the project. I can remember arguing for a year before we opened that we should not fuel this issue by criticizing or comparing ourselves to Linux in any way whatsoever. Just get people focusing on OpenSolaris, growing our community organically, and praising the Linux community for the outstanding job they've done (which they clearly have). Not that anyone listened, but that was basically my pitch. In other words, we should just shut up and build our community, which we knew would take years so just get started. I figured that we needed to lead with humility as the single most important element in order to have any shot at earning our own credibility so we wouldn't always be seen from the perspective of Linux.

Well, two years later I can see that my efforts in this area were basically meaningless -- for both good and bad reasons. The Good: The engineers participating all along didn't need the lecture since they got the concept of community building because they were already a community. That's been cool to see (but we have a lot more to do). The Bad: Market perception had already moved well beyond seeing OpenSolaris from the perspective of OpenSolaris. Instead, it would be compared to Linux in almost every way possible, and changing this would take years. Plus, our own flamers (the distinct minority who clearly lack credibility) did their very best to continue picking fights with Linux and distracting the OpenSolaris community on our very own lists. Oh, well. What saved us? A few things. OpenSolaris was credible early on because of the advanced nature of the code and the distinct lack of hype from Sun. Plus, everyone thought we'd fail. Also we didn't have a king or anything, so everyone who participated shared pretty equally in the conversations. That's what defines the leadership model on OpenSolaris, by the way. It's distributed widely and not focused on any one individual. Anyway, OpenSolaris was just an engineering project focusing on the phased opening of code and infrastructure to build a little community around the concept of open development. That's it. In that respect, we've been successful, and we've been slowly earning our credibility as we build our community. Cool.

Yet as Sun hired a big Linux name in Ian Murdock a few months ago, we've clearly started generating a lot more press coverage as a result, and along with that comes the inevitable comparisons to Linux. Yet again. Sigh. The increased attention is good, of course, and it will be interesting to see how much longer the media market sees OpenSolaris through a Linux lens. Clearly, a lot more coverage is coming, so I hope we can finally overcome this Linux perspective because the project has been standing on its own feet for two years now and deserves to be seen from the perspective of it's own successes and failures. So, if Indy's ideas can successfully build on the good work that has gone before, that would be a welcome contribution.

Ok, back to the article and this quote right here: "'We came into this with an understanding of what we needed to do, which was in a world where so many more people know Linux than Solaris, how do we figure out how to make the wonderful technology in Solaris more accessible?' Murdock explained. To break the Project down, Indiana is meant to create a binary distribution of OpenSolaris within the OpenSolaris community, not inside Sun proper. This is not to say Sun employees aren't involved in the process. Teams within Sun are working on various aspects of the project, such as installation, packaging, and GNU userland. In fact, Murdock said, some of these efforts have been going on for some time."

The "distro" part of that paragraph is somewhat confusing since Sun already has a binary distro (all distros here), and we've been working toward open development for two years, so none of that is new. But I think people get the point that the distro model will be changing, and that's explained pretty well elsewhere. And there are parts of that change that are very appealing and will help grow the OpenSolaris community significantly. Regardless, the most important, part here is the recognition that much of this work has been underway for some time now. And the fact that it's being highlighted now is cool.

Anyway, it's a pretty good article on some of the evolutionary changes coming to OpenSolaris. A lot of us are looking forward to the Indy project coming to fruition along with many other projects in the OpenSolaris community that have been underway for a couple of years. The SCM migration is probably the most important, actually, and the most challenging, too. But as we grow and evolve and look forward, we need to keep looking back from time to time to understand the perspective of our history. It's difficult to keep these things straight in a world of so many changing messages.

More on Indy here and more on some of the related projects here as well. Many additional links at both locations.

Sunday Aug 05, 2007

Community News II

A follow up to the Community News post.

The Advocacy CG now is now responsible for maintaining the news page on opensolaris.org. That page on the site was flying well under the radar for a long time, but I think now that OpenSolaris is generating a lot more press coverage, we'll be more active in posting and commenting on news directly on the site. Commenting about news coverage in individual blogs is fine but it's not focused, so we still need a detailed history of news coverage that lives on the site itself. As we grow into a community of general users complementing all the developers and administrators, we'll need this repository well maintained. Also, I opened a new mail list -- news-discuss -- for the posting and discussion of any news-related items about OpenSolaris around the world. Ok, that may be a bit ambitious, but you get the idea. And finally, the three Advocacy News Maintainers are Terri Molini, Joe G, and Bob Wientzen, and they volunteered via an open discussion in the Advocacy CG. They will evolve the news page and any necessary processes in collaboration with the community.

Thursday Aug 02, 2007

Eco Poll

This is cool. Sun sponsored a poll on environmental responsibility at work -- New Poll Reveals 73 Percent of U.S. Workers Want Employers To Be Environmentally Responsible But Lag In Own Efforts To Help: "By Leaving Eco-friendly Habits at Home, U.S. Workers Waste An Estimated $4.3 Billion in Energy Costs Per Year Resulting in 32 Million Tons of CO2 Emissions"

That's a lot of CO2. Turn off the lights, everyone. And your computers, too. I never understood why desktop machines had to run all nite long, all weekend long, all vacation long. Makes no sense.

Anyway, we had a little chit-chat on opensolaris-discuss about how Sun does marketing, and one community member is not happy about Sun's advertising efforts. He's wrong, of course, and I explained why, but then I gave up after a while because he was just flaming at that point. But this poll is an innovative way to engage the market in a conversation, eh? Generate some news. Create some real data. Use the data in ads, press releases, sales engagements, etc. Change a little behavior and save some money along the way and help build a market for our energy-saving servers and all that. Works for me.

Community News

Here's a proposal for the OpenSolaris Community to maintain the news page on opensolaris.org, and there are a few people who have responded positively. Cool. This will be the first time a top level page on opensolaris.org will be maintained by the community in an open process. Expect this trend to continue. Also, what's cool about this is that as OpenSolaris grows to engage more general users around the world, international communications will become more important than ever.

Tuesday Jul 31, 2007

Marketing Hype or Opportunity?

Sun's 'Project Copy Linux' not a Linux copy: "Sun spent months and months hyping Solaris 10 ahead of its release in 2005. The OS included some ground-breaking features such as DTrace and ZFS that Sun continues to flaunt today. The company has been unusually silent about the tools Solaris 11 will bring, making us wonder if OpenSolaris hasn't been a distraction from the core OS. You can see some of the discussed Nevada features here." -- Ashlee Vance, The Register

Oh, I think we hyped S10 for way more than just "months and months." Wasn't it more like a year or something? Anyway, it was worth it. But Ashlee hits on a good point -- distraction.

Our pre-S10 hype was traditional marketing, basically. The source was closed, development was all inside the firewall, and there really wasn't a community. All information had to flow through filters, and the information that was release was carefully screened and targeted. Now, however, the source is open, there is a growing global community, and development is starting to move outside (and many projects are already outside). So, how do you market -- hype -- all that stuff since it's already open for all to see and even participate in? Also, OpenSolaris isn't a distraction from the core OS. Actually, OpenSolaris is the core os. What can be a distraction, though, is trying to organize all the noise and conversations and source and binaries and projects and people into a coherent package that can be delivered in the form of hype. That's marketing. And that's extremely difficult on a project the scale of OpenSolaris. Before, you couldn't see all of the mess (in the best sense of the term, of course) because it was all hidden inside and only dribbled out via information gatekeepers. But now, it's pretty much all just out there. And more is coming when core kernel development itself moves external (the main ON gate operations, I mean, which is huge). From a marketing perspective, I think we are just now beginning to get a handle on how challenging this is. And what a big opportunity it is as well.

Friday Jul 20, 2007

Pressure Questions

Michael Dell tries to reboot Dell Computer: "During the interview, Fortune editor Andy Serwer asked Dell if he's been approached by any private equity firms about a potential buyout. Dell went quiet, smiled, looked to his PR person, looked back, and said, 'I'm not sure how to answer that.' And so, he didn't answer." -- Jia Lynn Yang, Fortune.

Pretty funny. But a good lesson for anyone dealing with the press and analysts. Even extremely experienced executives used to pressure interviews get caught off guard from time to time. It's actually nothing to laugh at. These guys have to choose their words carefully and for good reason. Even in this so-called age of open conversations, interviews are rarely conversations. Especially if you are in Dell's position right now. Also, unless you've been in a stressful media spotlight, it's difficult to judge those who are.

Monday Jul 09, 2007

OpenSolaris Advocacy Community Group

The Advocacy Community Group is now open. The new group represents the ongoing merger of the User Group Community, the Marketing Community, and the Immigrants Community. Content is still be moved to Advocacy, and the other communities will be closed as content is moved and URL re-directs put in place. Part of the merger involves the migration of the 53 OpenSolaris User Groups, which will all migrate to become individual projects. That migration has started with approximately 20 groups in the last few days. Here is the background on the merger and list archives from all four communities.

Wednesday Jul 04, 2007

Reading the Markets

Sun puts "Sparc" into Web 2.0 -- "I think Sun is reading the market correctly." -- Ephraim Schwartz
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