A Pragmatic Choice

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-10-11 Print this article Print


Theo Schlossnagle, CEO of OmniTI, said, "Oracle is notoriously bad at managing open-source communities. IBM is notoriously decent at it -- almost -good.' Without this collaboration, enterprise customers would have good reason to be uncertain about the future of open Java and its community."

Schlossnagle added, "Oracle just recently snuffed the OpenSolaris community that Sun took time to build and feed. Their move with OpenSolaris clearly shook the confidence of many of their enterprise customers. So, uncertainty was in the air for other open-source initiatives they had. IBMs involvement certainly stabilizes the situation."

IBM has been a backer of the Apache Harmony open-source implementation of Java. However, Smith said OpenJDK is picking up some classes from Harmony. "We've made a decision that collaborating within a single open-source project will deliver more innovation faster and strengthen the Java community overall," Smith told eWEEK. "So in terms of the Apache Harmony project, we will continue to support work within the Harmony project but we're going to be making OpenJDK our strategic and primary open-source forum for Java SE."

Meanwhile, Smith, Rizvi and Adam Messinger, vice president of Oracle Fusion Middleware, said they expect to see changes and improvements to the JCP (Java Community Process) that will benefit developers.

Eclipse's Milinkovich said, "I was also intrigued by the comments in the blog posts from Oracle and IBM which implied that additional announcements in relation to the governance of the JCP and impending JSRs for Java7 will be coming shortly. If we can move the JCP forward in a positive way then the Java ecosystem will truly be in a position to regain its momentum."

In a blog post, Bob Sutor, vice president of Open Source and Linux for IBM Software Group, said:

"We think this is the pragmatic choice. It became clear to us that first Sun and then Oracle were never planning to make the important test and certification tests for Java, the Java SE TCK, available to Apache. We disagreed with this choice, but it was not ours to make. So rather than continue to drive Harmony as an unofficial and uncertified Java effort, we decided to shift direction and put our efforts into OpenJDK. Our involvement will not be casual as we plan to hold leadership positions and, with the other members of the community, fully expect to have a strong say in how the project is managed and in which technical direction it goes.

"We also expect to see some long needed reforms in the JCP, the Java Community Process, to make it more democratic, transparent and open. IBM and, indeed Oracle, have been lobbying for such transformations for years and we're pleased to see them happening now. It's time. Actually, it's past time."

In summary, Sutor said, "OpenJDK represents the best chance to provide a top notch, unified open-source runtime for Java; customers will benefit by having first-class Java open standards developed collaboratively and constructively; and our energy will be focused on working together and optimizing our joint work, rather than wasting time on duplicative projects."

Asked why IBM decided to join the OpenJDK effort now after laying back from it in the past, Smith credited Oracle for "taking initiative to get us on the phone. Overall, it's in our best interest."

For his part, one Java developer and executive in a major company in the Java ecosystem, who asked not to be identified, said, "Seems to me that both Oracle and IBM make large profits on companies that standardize on Java technologies. The last thing either of them need is for those companies to think that Java isn't safe, is stagnant or might become splintered. I think this announcement is basically both of them reassuring their cash cows that -Java is safe and still a great choice, now and in the future.  Now pay us.'"

Meanwhile, Java creator James Gosling, said to eWEEK of the Oracle/IBM move:

"It's pretty vague. But hopeful. One the one hand 'it's just business,' and it's strongly in the best interests of both parties for peace to break out. On the other hand, they both want to be the master of the universe. I'm somewhat surprised that they both seem to have eaten some humble pie. I hope this turns into breaking the JCP logjam. Good step. I'd like to think that all the public scrutiny on Oracle+Java has helped."



Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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