In his blog criticizing Sun, Dave Rosenberg points to an article by Dave Rosenberg as an example of something he says Sun is not doing — which is using innovative open source marketing to help build relationships with developer communities. Well, I read the article and I liked it. Some good tips in there. So, I’d like to point to the same article to demonstrate the opposite conclusion — that as a corporation, Sun is actually doing some fine open source marketing and it’s largely based on the open communications of our engineers. And since we are in the process of open sourcing new stuff all the time, we’ll continually be building relationships with our developer communities just like we are doing now. Are we perfect? Hardly. But we are doing more than some people think, and there’s more to come, too. What’s happening at Sun is that marketing is starting to join the community and do its marketing from within the community. Many engineering groups have been there all along, but now our marketing colleagues are showing up, too, which is very encouraging.
Anyway, back to the article — The voodoo of marketing an open source project. Here’s the last paragraph:
Those “dialog” and “honest communications” references are most important, I believe. But — and that’s a very big but — the communication has to be unfiltered and distributed, which is the opposite of traditional marketing. In other words … engineers talking to engineers.
In our marketing, we already do much of what the article talks about (conferences, t-shirts, newsgroups, blogs, etc), but what’s interesting is that our engineers have been doing these things for years — directly engaging with the communities in which they participate. It’s not traditional marketing, of course, it’s simply the process of having a consistent, honest conversation with a peer across the firewall. So, we get this part totally and always have.
Last week just the OpenSolaris contingent of Sun’s participation at OSCON topped more than 15 people — including the entire OpenSolaris CAB — to participate in several sessions. Heck, we even sent the prez. Other Sun software groups were there, too, so I have no clue what the total was, but it was a lot from just one company. And although I was at home with a three month old, I heard things went pretty well in Portland. It’s important to note that the vast majority of presenters from the OpenSolaris project at OSCON were engineers. Again, it’s the engineers that are driving these conversations, not marketeers and executives.
I’m sure the guys at NetBeans, Java, java.net, Jini, OpenOffice.org, Jxta, GlassFish, Grid, Looking Glass, and the other developer communities in which we participate would agree with me. They are, after all, doing pretty much the same thing at their conferences and in their blogs and discussion lists — collaborating on code and talking directly and honestly with their peers within their communities. Pretty much what’s outlined in Dave’s article, don’t you think?