A tribute to SunSpace

The sad news is that SunSpace has been decommissioned on December 2011 - the good news is that the SunSpace content and communities have a new home on Oracle WebCenter. :)

Read the story about SunSpace - one of the coolest Social Enterprise implementations ... 

SunSpace was Sun Microsystems  global Enterprise 2.0 system for Global Sales & Services. At it peak time we had

  • 30'000+ users
  • 10 times growth in 6 month
  • 150'000+ content items
  • 25+ millions social activities
  • 2nd largest Sun Intranet website

Let's be a bit sentimental and look at the history of SunSpace ......

2006: Cepedia - the early day's

In 2006 we started an implementation based on MediaWiki and integrated tagging/rating and filesharing.

The system was called CEpedia - CustomerEngineeringPedia.

At the same time we designed the first version of Community Equity a social value system for communities.

While we where learning from Cepedia we brainstormed about the idea of a fully integrated social community platform where people could:

  • share their knowledge
  • ask questions
  • find quickly relevant content
  • build their online reputation
  • and - have some fun while working :)

2007: CE 2.0 - Social innovation

Cepedia was growing very fast and  became pretty mission critical to the Enterprise.  We realized  quickly that we have to build a Enterprise scalable  architecture  and infrastructure to keep up with the growth. Thanks to our innovative CTO leadership team (Hal Stern, Jim Baty, Dan Berg) we got the resources and investment to start a new project called  CE 2.0 - Customer Engineering 2.0 - which eventually became SunSpace.

We evaluated a new platform and decided to go with Atlassian Confluence  plus a tight integration of our  own developed FileShare  + Community Equity Services 

In June 2007 we started the development and in October 2007 we launched the pilot at the Sun Customer Engineering Conference (CEC) in Las Vegas to 4'700 participant.

Wow - that was a blast - the system was pretty shaky (post-alpha) and our team worked 24+ to keep it and running.


source: http://rodwhisnant.com

But hey - it worked and it was a huge success.

2008: SunSpace is born 

After the CEC  conference we worked very hard to stabilizing the system and make it more scalable.

In February 2008 we submitted the patent on Community Equity

In March 2008 we got introduced by Daniela Barbosa (thanks again) to Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.  I remember very well  our first meeting at Sun's HQ (now Facebook HQ) were we brainstormed about communities, community equity, folksonomies and taxonomies and the  Starfish model

source: http://scobleizer.com 

We developed some great  idea's and concepts which eventually appeared in some publications (Taxonomy Folksonomy eBook, The Conversational Corporation :)

Also Shel Israel did a video interview with us  (Robert was the camera man) and  Shel wrote  following nice statement about CE2.0t:

"In one of the more exciting technologies I've seen, CE2.0 is equal parts Facebook, corporate intranet, and community forum. The ability to aggregate and display community participation, and to profile the individual on a community equity model is incredibly innovative"

The site was still called CE 2.0 and in April 2008 we launched  an internal idea contest  for a new name  and then winner was "SunSpace"

SunSpace is live

On July 14th 2008 we released the production version of SunSpace (formerly CE 2.0) to around 10'000 members of the Customer Engineering organization. 

">This was probably one of the most advanced Social Networking implementation in a large Enterprise at that time!

In September 2008 we had a follow up interview with Shel Israel  

When I first saw CE 2.0, I was pretty certain that the work of this 25-year veteran of IT would closely resemble a Rube Goldberg drawing, filled with complexity and confusing we of a nontechnical ilk.

I was wrong. More than anything, it looked like Facebook. It looked like it would be fun to play with. It had all sorts of "consumery" features. For example, you got ranked for your contribution and the ranking was public.

 Thanks again Shel !

After 100 days of production we saw phenemenal  growths of adoption. We had over 20'000 users and usage of SunSpace was doubling month by month. 


We were running SunSpace in a  Perpetual Beta  mode - weekly releases (sometimes daily) and every monthly we had a major release -

as example in December 2008  release we added  a  federated tagging services 

The new federated tagging widget allows to build tag clouds around federated content (e.g attachments,wiki pages from Confluence and MediaWiki), communities and/or people.

Example 1: Show a tag cloud of all Communities from SunSpace and order the tags by Tag Equity (Tag Equity is the social value of all information attached to a tag)


2009: Social Enterprise Adoption 

In January 2009 SunSpace reached 30'000 users and became the 2nd largest website within Sun.  Onestop - the most popular and trusted internal Sun community was brought over to SunSpace and we initiated the Open Source Community Equity project.

Also we looked into additional social services to complement the current feature set of SunSpace. Microblogging (like Twitter)  was just getting popular and we decided to built an internal and secure microblogging service called Sweet! based on an open source version of laconi.ca (status.net). We added Secure Single Sign On, tweaked the UI and integrated the microblogging platform into SunSpace.

In March 2009 we launched Sweet!  On key change we did was not to ask "What are do doing" instead we asked?"What are you working on?

This was a small change but had a big impact. User picked up the service very quickly and the majority of the sweet's (discussions) were around business and work related topics.  

Also we looked at the emerging social technology standards and engaged with the activitystrea.ms group. They define a standard for Social Activities which has been now adapted by Gnip, Google Buzz Gowalla, IBM, MySpace, Opera, Socialcast, Superfeedr, TypePad, Windows Live, YIID, and many others.

We were likely the first Enterprise company which used  activitystrea.ms in the Intranet. We wrote a plugin for Sweet! and processed any activitystrea.ms feeds (internal & external) from the Community Equity service.

(as a side note - do you know this logo?   yepp it's the activitystrea.ms logo which as been created by our Sweet! UI designer Matthias Müller-Prove and  he contributed it to the activitystrea.ms project)

In April 2009  Oracle announced to buy Sun Microsystems. Hmm what would be the impact for SunSpace? 

We just continued  our plan and  

in June 2009 at JavaOne/CommunityOne we announced the Open Source version of Community Equity.

and SunSpace won the The "Not just another wiki" Award: Best use of Confluence from Atlassian



In August 2009  we added SunSpace as a use case to the EU funded Semantic Web Research project called Kiwi. The goal was to research how semantic technologies and models could be used to implement Enterprise Metadata Management combined with Social Networks.

In November 2009 the Community Equity patent was published  and we released the Open Source Community Equity Versions 1.2 with official activitystrea.ms support.

Also Olof Tjerngren contributed  the activitystrea.ms extension for laconi.ca/status.net to the Open Source (Thanks again Olof ). This plugin was already used for some time in our Sweet! microblogging service. 

2010: Challenges and Opportunities

On January 28th  Oracle completed the Acquisition of Sun and  http://sun.com disappeared. 

At this time SunSpace was still very much alive and was a mission critical application for the field facing customer engineering organization. 

In March 2011 we started a project to evaluate how we could migrate SunSpace to a Oracle based platform/technology. 

On June 1st 2011 the SunSpace (Swiss) team officially joint Oracle to help build vibrant communities@Oracle.

In September 2011 we finished the migration of 22 internal Oracle communities with around 15,000 members  from the "old"  Oracle portal to Oracle WebCenter.

Based on  this successful implementation,we decided to  migrate SunSpace to Oracle WebCenter.

2011: SunSpace migration

Now we knew the target system and we started the migration planning. We quickly realized that this was not a simple project. SunSpace was the key Community and Social platform from Sun and there were  around 600 communities with around 150,000 content items to migrate.

The key questions  were:

What's are the key active communities and content we need to migrate ?

What is still used and what can we archive?

Thanks to Community Equity we where able to figure out pretty quickly what is active/relevant. 

Why?  Because Community Equity calculates the "Social value/relevance" per community, content item, user and metadata (e.g. tags) :)


Based on this analysis we focused on the top 100 Communities and on the content which was still active and relevant. 

We developed a set of self migration tools and tested it with some pilots.

In August 2011 we announced the SunSpace migration to WebCenter to the users. 

Within 5 month the users migrated their community and content to WebCenter and on December 31th 2011 - we decommissioned SunSpace.

Is this the end of the story ? 

Definitely not!   

The SunSpace concept will live on - we just changed the underlying technology!

and this technology is actually pretty cool:  

WebCenter  has most of the functionality we had in SunSpace - and the underlying technology scales much better then the "old" SunSpace implementation.

Some of the advanced concept and features we had in SunSpace can be easily be added/integrated into Oracle WebCenter and guess what ?

I might have some influence as I recently jointed the global WebCenter evangelists team :).


SunSpace was a great ride, a lot of  passion, a lot of cool technology, a lot of long nights and a lot of FUN !

We had a great management which allowed us to innovate  - thanks troika CTO's -

we had ten-thousands of  users which where using SunSpace, gave us feedback, tolerated a perpetual Beta system and were very passionate about "Building vibrant communities"        - thanks gang!  - 

and last but not least  the SunSpace team !   - thanks guys -


I believe part of the winning formula was integrating community equity with (fast) search. Documents, wiki pages, and people with the highest equity score floated to the top of the results. "Find the expert" was an intrinsic component. A dynamic expert list was generated for each search query, based on owners of pages/documents.

Posted by guest on January 14, 2012 at 09:31 AM CET #

Hi Peter,

Sad so see SunSpace has been sunset, but glad a lot of it lives on in WebCenter. Did the documentation on Community Equity that was hosted at https://wikis.sun.com/display/ceqdoc get migrated? I've searched https://wikis.oracle.com/dashboard.action and http://blogs.oracle.com/webcenter/ for "ceq", "equity" and "community equity", but every search comes up with zero results.

Does the Community Equity documentation live on somewhere that non-Oracle employees are allowed to view or is it now internal only and/or gone forever?



Posted by Andrew Frayling on January 19, 2012 at 11:26 AM CET #

Hi Peter,

Sad so see SunSpace has been sunset, but glad a lot of it lives on in WebCenter. Did the documentation on Community Equity that was hosted at https://wikis.sun.com/display/ceqdoc get migrated? I've searched https://wikis.oracle.com/dashboard.action and http://blogs.oracle.com/webcenter/ for "ceq", "equity" and "community equity", but every search comes up with zero results.

Does the Community Equity documentation live on somewhere that non-Oracle employees are allowed to view or is it now internal only and/or gone forever?



Posted by Andrew Frayling on January 19, 2012 at 11:27 AM CET #

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