Sun PR goes global for open-source Java move

SANTA CLARA, CA: The PR component behind Sun Microsystems' move to make its Java software source code available to the open-source community last week spanned the globe, included multiple distribution platforms, and featured outreach to a range of stakeholders.

SANTA CLARA, CA: The PR component behind Sun Microsystems' move to make its Java software source code available to the open-source community last week spanned the globe, included multiple distribution platforms, and featured outreach to a range of stakeholders.

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz and SVP of software Rich Green hosted a company meeting in Santa Clara last Monday to spread the news. The event was open to the media, and reporters and bloggers attended in-person.

The meeting was also available via webcast for the global community. After the company meeting, Schwartz and Green answered questions for the media in attendance.

But the comprehensive PR plan created by Sun and global agency Bite Communications took outreach into account before the launch. Before Sun and Bite briefed the media, they took the message to analyst and consulting firms such as Forrester, IDC, RedMonk, Illuminata, Burton Group, M:Metrics, and Ovum.

Sun's PR team said opening Java is very important to the company's business because it will encourage implementation among Linux operating system users and enable cooperation among developers.

"The more open Java is, the more developers will want to work with it and help with Linux adoption," said Bite account director Ken Shuman. "People were concerned about [Java working with] Linux in the enterprise area... but now they will work together in harmony."

The Java change to open source had been anticipated for more than six months, analysts said. An InformationWeek article, entitled "Why Open-Source Java Is Such A Big Deal," said that the announcement could garner the company invaluable publicity for embracing open source for its key product. It's also expected that the Java program will grow in scope as it is opened to developers worldwide.

The PR team placed great importance on creating a dialogue with that developer community.

"It was important for us to go directly to the developers community," Shuman said. "That is crucial. By opening Java we're letting developers go in and play with it. So we needed to go where [the developers] are: online, all day and all night."

On the Monday launch, 15 core spokespeople worldwide had pre-briefed more than 100 analysts and media members, according to Bite.

There were also briefings at events around the globe: Open Source Mobile Conference in Amsterdam; W-Jax in Munich; and Tech Day in Seoul. The team also conducted one-on-one meetings across Europe, the Mideast, and Africa. In addition, two press events were created to support the Asia-Pacific region and reach journalists in China, India, Australia, and Singapore, as well as reporters and bloggers in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, and Canada.

The international outreach was important to Sun because of the rest of the world's adoption and understanding of open-source technology.

"Countries like Brazil and China have all embraced the open-source movement," Shuman said. "A lot of open-source developers are in Europe. We have gone to the countries that really embraced open sourcing and went to where these developers are hanging out."

Lawyers were also on hand to explain the legal perspective. In addition to software spokespeople for Java SE and ME, Mike Dillon, Sun's general counsel, explained the rationale behind Sun's choice of open-source license to key press, such as the San Jose Mercury News.

Sun reports that Java technology is used on more than 4 billion devices globally and that its Java ME platform is available on more than eight of every 10 mobile handsets shipped today.

The company has already released open-source implementations of its Solaris Operating Sys- tem, NetBeans, Project Looking Glass, Project JXTA, Jini, OpenOffice, OpenSPARC, and Java EE technologies, with the expectation that it will get to opening up all of its middleware.

The company's launch day ended with a special event in the online virtual world of Second Life, where Sun has previously held press briefings.

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