A tribute to SunSpace
By me on Jan 13, 2012
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.
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.
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
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"
">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.
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.
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.
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 ?
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 -
- Diana Pittman - Community Drivers Manager
- Dmitry Ryashchentsev - Community Equity Math guru and developer
- Inka Pevelka- Havlova - Program management
- Josef Holy - Social interaction designer
- Max Wegmueller - Software Lead
- Mike Briggs - Onestop and Search guru
- Neeraj Mathur - Program management
- Peter Reiser - Lead Architect
- Simone Habegger - UI design and project management
- Victor Kuriashkin - Software developer