Sun Adopts RSS

Sun Microsystems will become the first major platform vendor to commit to the RSS syndication technology, says Sun EVP Jonathan Schwartz in an exclusive chat with eWEEK's Steve Gillmor.

In an exclusive conversation with Sun Executive Vice President Jonathan Schwartz and eWEEK Contributing Editor Steve Gillmor, the software chief revealed Suns plans to adopt RSS (Really Simple Syndication or RDF Site Summary) as a fundamental transport for developer communications and community building.

Schwartz: Theres a broad scale realization within Sun Microsystems that communities are increasingly informed through RSS. My CTO John Fowler commanded a portion of my staff meeting away from my agenda to have a parade of those who manage RSS communities in Sun come in and talk to me and my staff about the extent to which this is an extremely powerful mechanism of getting information and creating communities.

Sun Microsystems has always been about communities. Those communities early on in the companys existence were probably nowhere near as well connected as they are today, certainly in nowhere near the same real-time mechanism as they are today. And RSS is increasingly becoming the principal means of real-time communication.

If you look now all across Sun and our developer properties, youre seeing RSS feeds –little blogs and wikis– popping up everywhere. That to me is more representative of what needs to be our mainstream strategy rather than the work of a few creative individuals who want to have our big admin portal picked up by people who care about Solaris system administration.

So were having a recent discussion at Scotts staff meeting about where we put our advertising and marketing dollars. We could run big SuperBowl [spots] or maybe advertise during the Academy Awards. And my point was, those wont reach our target demographic. RSS will reach our target demographic.

Gillmor: How do you invest in RSS?

Schwartz: We invest in a couple of ways: One, we build the basic infrastructure into all the services that Sun provides just to insure theyre available as RSS feeds. Thats pretty standard infrastructure —theres nothing there thats going to be world-changing. The second inevitable conclusion is youve got to support it in the client, and through the client. Whether thats Ampheta or ChatZilla or any of the diversity of client technologies that are available, were obviously still thinking through that.

Theres preferences from guys who run Macs and JDS (Java Desktop System) and Windows —everybodys got their favorite. Weve got to figure out what the right cross-platform answer really is. There may in fact be no right cross platform answer. It may be that RSS is sufficiently standardized (apropos of the prior conversation) that we can have a diversity of clients available to read it, including RSS clients on my handset, on my set top box, and in my hotel room.

Next page: RSS in the Java Desktop System?