Sun Posts a Blog Expert

The systems vendor hires Dave Johnson to develop Roller full-time with an eye towards more 'enterprise-class' blogging.
Posted September 3, 2004

Michael Singer

Sun Microsystems has hired the creator of the Roller blogging technology to bring the communications tool to its enterprise software.

Founder Dave Johnson said he accepted the job with Sun Microsystems this week to "design, develop, and deploy the primary blogging system for Sun in conjunction with other engineers" and to evangelize blogging both inside and outside of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker.

The technology, Roller, is server-based application that is designed to support multiple and simultaneous blog users and visitors. The platform supports comments, WYSIWYG HTML editing, page templates, RSS syndication, trackback, blogroll management, and provides an XML-RPC interface for blogging clients such as w:bloggar and nntp//rss.

"Needless to say, I'm thrilled. I'm honored to be working for Sun and with great folks like Will Snow, John Hoffman, Tim Bray, Patrick Chanezon, and Danese Cooper," Johnson said in a recent blog post. "I'm excited to be working for a company that feels the same was as I do about the value of blogs and wikis, open source software, and encouraging employees to speak with honest and authentic voice to customers, to partners, and to each other."

Johnson's relationship with Sun was solidified in June of this year when the company handpicked Roller to power Sun employee blogs at

The choice to adopt Johnson's technology may have been inspired because Roller is written entirely in Java with calls to Java Servlet and JDBC APIs .

And while the world is waking up to blogs, Sun has been keeping pace with their popularity with contributions by COO Jonathan Schwartz and Java creator James Gosling.

"If there's a more effective likely advocate for blogs as community-building tools, I can't imagine who it would be," Michael Dortch, an analyst with research firm Robert Frances Group, said about Sun. "David Johnson will bring to Sun even greater momentum for the use of blogs to build bridges among Sun customers, employees, and partners. Sun, meanwhile, should bring to the Roller blogging software more 'enterprise-class' reliability, security, and stability. This should, in turn, ease and speed the growth of blogs as useful tools among the enterprise constituents so important to Sun."

Sun has also tapped into its sales channels through its blogs. During the company's recent JavaOne conference, Sun executives hinted at an auction on eBay that centered on a dozen Opteron-based workstations that had yet to be revealed or advertised.

Sometimes, blogs can raise more than capital. Schwartz's blog raised a few eyebrows after the pony-tailed COO suggested that the Santa Clara, Calif.-based systems vendor could acquire SUSE Linux owner Novell and put IBM in a pickle. The blurb was discounted as speculation but forced investors to think more about Sun's other potential acquisition targets.

And what does this mean for Roller? "Only good things," Johnson said. "Sun wants many of the same things for Roller that other Roller users want including high performance, high availability, great user interface, support for standards, and better support for large communities of bloggers. Thanks to Sun I'll be working full time to help make these things happen."

Johnson also said Roller will continue on as an open source project with its software licensed under the Apache-like Roller Weblogger license.

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