Case Study: Sun Microsystems

A Conversation with Linda Skrocki, Sr. Enginering Program Manager: Blogs, Forums, Planets, Wikis
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Santa Clara, California, USA

Sun Microsystems Inc., (NASDAQ: JAVA) provides network computing infrastructure solutions that include computer systems, software, storage, and services. Its core brands include the Java technology platform, the Solaris operating system, StorageTek and the UltraSPARC processor.

Why did you choose a wiki?

Employees and Sun affiliates asked for a platform in which they can share and collaboratively create content based on common interests/initiatives. The wiki is open to people both inside and outside Sun. For example, a developer who is an advocate of Java but has never bought a Sun product could contribute to the wiki as long as they have a Sun online account and have been granted write access to the space by the space administrator.

What type of wiki are you using?

Enterprise, dual node implementation outside of the firewall. Content is readable by anyone with a browser and writable by Sun Employees, Interns, and Invited Guests with a Sun Online Account ([https://reg.sun.com/register]). By default, Sun employees have write access to the entire site, while external users have limited write access only within the spaces to which they’ve been granted access. Each space has a space administrator who can grant anyone write access to the space.

How are you using the wiki?

Collaboratively created documentation is a primary use for the wiki, with many spaces for specific initiatives dedicated to building and maintaining community created content. 

Not all spaces are entirely Sun-centric, and that’s as it should be. For the wiki to be successful, information should be on topics of interest to all participants. This increases the time people spend utilizing tools like blogs and wikis, which builds value as they engage with the tools, build relationships, and humanizes the experience.

Which wikipatterns are in use on your wiki?

  • IdentityMatters – Sun requires that each contributor to the wiki have a Sun online account. This helps ensure that people make high quality contributions, reduces the likelihood of anti-patterns like Vandalism or Trolling, and helps people value their interactions on the wiki just as they would in real life.
  • Poker – By giving wiki users the flexibility to create spaces that are not just Sun-centric, the company is encouraging people to build relationships and collaboratively create content. This builds a sense of ownership in the wiki, and increases the probability that people will use the wiki for all information that they consider important, including work-related content.

What changes have you seen as a result of using a wiki?

The site has only been live since August 3rd, 2007 but in that time about a thousand pages have been created by more than 600 users. As an example, the subject matter varies from general topics, such as social networking ([http://wikis.sun.com/display/SocialNetworking/Home]) to specific topics, such as FOSS Open Hardware Documentation ([http://wikis.sun.com/display/FOSSdocs/Home]).