e-interview: SunSpace to WebCenter migration

I had the pleasure to do an e-interview with Ana Neves around the SunSpace to WebCenter migration project.

Below is the english version of the interview. Enjoy :-)

Peter, you joined Oracle in 2009 through the acquisition of Sun. Becoming a part of Oracle meant many changes. The internal collaboration platform was one of them, as per a post you wrote back in 2011. Sun had SunSpace. How would you describe SunSpace?

SunSpace was the internal Community and Social Collaboration platform for the Sun’s Global Sales and Services Organization. SunSpace served around 600 communities with a main focus around technology, products and services. SunSpace was a big success. Within 3 months of its launch SunSpace had over 20,000 users and it won the Atlassian “Not just another wiki” Award for the best use of Confluence (https://blogs.oracle.com/peterreiser/entry/goodbye_sunspace_hello_webcenter).

What made SunSpace so special?

1. People centric versus Web centric

The main concept of SunSpace put the person in the middle of everything. All relevant information, resources etc. where dynamically pushed to a person’s myProfile ( Facebook like interface) based on the person’s interest and needs.

2. Ease to use

SunSpace was really easy to use. We spent a lot of time on social interaction design to optimize the user experience. Also we integrated some sophisticated technology to hide complexity from the user. As example – when a user added a document to SunSpace – we analyzed the content of the document and suggested related metadata and tags to the user based on a sophisticated algorithm which was integrated with the corporate taxonomy. Based on this metadata the document was automatically shared with the relevant communities.

3. Easy to find

One of the main use cases for SunSpace was that a user could quickly find the content and information they needed for their job. The search implementation was based on:

  • optimized search engine algorithm using social value based ranking enhancements
  • community facilitated search optimization
  • faceted search which recommended highly relevant content like products, communities and experts

4. Social Adoption – How to build vibrant communities

You can deploy the coolest social technology but what if the users are not using it?

To drive user adoption we implemented two complementary models:

4.1 Community Methodology We developed a set of best practices on how to create, run and sustain communities including: community structure and types (e.g. Community of Practice, Community of Interest etc.) & tips and tricks on how to build a “vibrant ” communities, Community Health check etc. These best practices where constantly tuned and updated by the community of community drivers.
4.2. Social Value System To drive user adoption there is ONE key question you have to answer for each individual user: What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)

We developed a Social Value System called Community Equity which measures the social value flow between People, Content and Metadata.

Based on this technology we added “Gamfication” techniques (although at that time this term did not exist :-) ) to SunSpace to honor people for the active contribution and participation.

As example: All social credentials a user earned trough active community participation where dynamically displayed on her/his myProfile.

How would you describe WebCenter?

Oracle WebCenter (@oraclewebcenter) is the Oracle’s user engagement platform for social business. It helps people work together more efficiently through contextual collaboration tools that optimize connections between people, information, and applications and ensures users have access to the right information in the context of the business process in which they are engaged. Oracle WebCenter can help your organization deliver contextual and targeted Web experiences to users and enable employees to access information and applications through intuitive portals, composite applications, and mash-ups.

How does it compare to SunSpace in terms of functionality?
Before I answer this question, I would like to point out some limitation we started to see with the current SunSpace implementation. Due to the massive growth of the user population (>20,000 users), we experienced performance and scalability challenges with the current technology. Also at the time – Sun Internal Communications and SunIT planned to replace the entire Sun Intranet with SunSpace. We kicked-off a project to evaluate the enterprise level technology which eventually would replace the good old static Intranet. And then Oracle acquired Sun. We already had defined the functional requirements for the Intranet replacement with a Social Enterprise Stack and we just needed to evaluate the functional requirements against WebCenter :-)
Below are the summary of this evaluation


How WebCenter Works
Home MyProfile: to access, click on your name at the top of any WebCenter page Your name, title, and reporting line are displayed. Sub-tabs show your activity stream (Activities); people in your network (Connections); files you have uploaded (Documents); your contact information (Organization); and any personal information you wish to share (About).
Files MyFiles Allows you to upload, download and store documents or wiki pages within folders and subfolders. The WebDav interface allows you to download / upload files / folders with a simple drag and drop to / from your local machine. Tagging is supported and recommended.
Network Home
Home: displays the activity stream of individuals in your network.
MyConnections: shows individuals in your network. Click on a person’s name to see their contact info and link to their profile.
Status Updates MyProfle > Activties Add and displays your recent activties and status updates.
Watches Preferences > Subscriptions > Current Subscriptions Receive email notifications when pages / spaces you watch are modified.
Drafts N/A WebCenter does not support Drafts
Settings Preferences: to access, click on ‘Preferences’ at the top of any WebCenter page Set your general preferences, as well as your WebCenter messaging, search and mail settings.
MyCommunities MySpaces: to access, click on ‘Spaces’ at the top of any WebCenter page Displays MySpaces (communities you are a member of); and Recent Spaces (communities you have recently visited).


How Webcenter Works
Home Home Displays a community introduction and activity stream. Members can add messages, links or documents via the Community Message Board. No Top Contributors widget.
People Members Lists members of the community. The Mail All Members feature allows moderators and participants to send a message to all members of the community. Membership Management can be found under > Manage > Members
News News Members can post and access latest community news and they can subscribe to news using an RSS reader
Documents Documents Allows community members to upload, download and store documents or wiki pages within folders and subfolders. The WebDav interface allows participants to download / upload files / folders with a simple drag and drop to / from your local machine. Tagging is supported and recommended.
Wiki Wiki Allows community members to create and update web pages with a WYSIWYG editor. Note: WebCenter does not support macros or portlet embedding.
Forum Forum Post community forum topics. Contribute to community forum conversations.
N/A Calendar Update and/or view the Community Calendar.
N/A Analytics Displays detailed analytics data (views,downloads, unique users etc.) for Pages, Wiki, Documents, and Forum in a given community space.

What is the adoption of WebCenter at Oracle?

The entire Intranet serving around 100,000 users is running on WebCenter Content. For professional communities we use WebCenter Portal and Spaces. Currently we have around 6,000 community spaces with around 40,000 members.

Does Oracle have any metrics to assess usage and impact of WebCenter? Can you give us some examples?

Sure – we have a lot of metrics :-)
For the Intranet we use traditional metrics like pageviews, monthly unique visitors and unique visits.
For Communities we use the WebCenter Portal/Spaces analytics service which gives as a wealth of data. The key metrics we track are: Space traffic (PageViews, Unique Users) Wiki,Documents (views, downloads etc.) Forum (users, views, posts etc.) Registered members over time

Depending on the community we can filter/segment the metrics by User Properties e.g. Country, Organization, Job Role etc.

What are you doing to improve usage and impact?

1. We integrating the WebCenter social services/fabric into all main business applications. As example The Fusion CRM deployment is seamless integrated with Oracle Social Network (OSN) and all conversation around an opportunity or customer engagement is done in OSN (see youtube video).

2. We drive Social Best Practice trough a program called “Social Networking & Business Collaboration (SNBC) program

You worked both with WebCenter and SunSpace. Knowing what you know today, if you had the chance to choose between the two, which one would you choose? Why?

That’s a tricky question :-)
In the early days of the Social Enterprise implementation (we started SunSpace in 2006), we needed an agile and easy to deploy technology to keep up with the users requirements. Sometimes we pushed two releases per day and we were in a permanent perpetual beta mode – SunSpace was perfect for that.
After the social implementation matured over time – community generated content became business critical and we saw a change in the requirements from agile to stability, scalability and reliability of the infrastructure. WebCenter is the right choice for such an enterprise-level deployment.

You are a WebCenter Evangelist at Oracle. What do you do as part of that role?

Our role is to help position Oracle as one of the key thought leaders and solutions provider for Social Business. In addition we drive social innovation trough our Oracle Appslab team.

Is that a full time role?


How many other Evangelists are there in Oracle?

We are currently 5 people in the WebCenter evangelist team (@webcentervoices):

  • Christian Finn (@cfinn) leads the team – Christian came from the Microsoft Sharepoint product management team and is a recognized expert in Social Business and Enterprise Collaboration.
  • Noël Jaffré (@noeljaffre) is our Web Experience Management (WEM) guru and came to Oracle via FatWire acquisition (now WebCenter Sites).
  • Jake Kuramoto (@theapplab) is part of the Oracle AppsLab innovation team – Jake is well known as the driving force behind https://theappslab.com a blog around social and innovation.
  • Noel Portugal (@noelportugal) is a developer in the Oracle AppsLab innovation team – he is the inventor of OraTweet – Oracle’s internal tweeting platform
  • Peter Reiser (@peterreiser) is a Social Business guru and the inventor of SunSpace and Community Equity.

What area of the business do you and the rest of the Evangelists sit in? What area of the organisation is responsible for WebCenter?

We are part of the WebCenter product management organization.

Is WebCenter part of the Knowledge Management strategy?

Oracle WebCenter is the Oracle’s user engagement platform for social business. It brings together the most complete portfolio of portal, web experience management, content, social and collaboration technologies into a single product suite and is the product foundation of the Oracle Knowledge Management strategy.

I am aware Oracle also uses Beehive internally. How would you describe Beehive?

Oracle Beehive provides an integrated set of communication and collaboration services built on a single scalable, secure, enterprise-class platform Beehive is internally used for enterprise wide mail, calendar and real collaboration (Web conferencing) services.

Are Beehive and WebCenter connected?

Historically Beehive and WebCenter Portal & Content had some overlap in functionally. (Hey – if a company has an acquisition strategy to strengthen its product offering and accelerate innovation, it’s pretty normal that functional overlap exists :- )) A key objective of the WebCenter strategy is to combine all social and collaboration offerings under the WebCenter product family. That means that certain Beehive components will be integrated into the overall WebCenter product offering.
Are there any other internal collaboration tools at Oracle? Which ones
There here are two other main social tools which are widely used at Oracle
Oracle Connect was the first social tool the Oracle AppsLab team created in 2007 see (Jake’s blog post for details). It is still extensively used.
… and as a former Sun guy I like this quote from the blog post:
“Traffic to Connect peaked right after the Sun merger in 2010, when it served several hundred thousand pageviews each month; since then, traffic has subsided, but still averages tens of thousands of pageviews to several thousand users each month.”
Oratweet – Oracle internal microblogging platform has been used since June 2008 and it is still growing. It’s entirely written in Oracle Application Express (APEX) which is a rapid web application development tool for the Oracle database. Wanna try it out? Here you can download the code.

What is Oracle’s strategy regarding (all these) collaboration tools?
Pretty straight forward. The strategy is to seamless integrate the WebCenter social & collaboration services into all Business Applications to help customers to socialize their enterprise.