The Upside of Open

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-05-16 Print this article Print

-Sourcing Java"> "So, I am not worried about the impact of open-sourcing Java. I think that there is more upside and opportunities than there is downside, but I also understand that we have to respect the wishes of the Java community and not make a decision just because one or two or three individuals want to go and grandstand," Schwartz said. Often misunderstood in the Java world is that there were two very separate activities that took place: one of them was that code was created, like Glass Fish, while the other, which was also extremely important, was the JCP (Java Community Process), the standards setting body, refined the specifications so that everyone could implement against it.
"No one has ever done that effectively in the open-source world yet, and we need to make sure that when and if we decide to open-source Java we are deeply respectful of the compatibility that has created the community that we see at the JavaOne show," Schwartz said.
Read more here about how some former Sun executives have called for Java to be open-sourced. Asked if he agreed with the notion that Sun should rely on trademark law to prevent compatibility and other issues and then let Java flourish in the open-source environment, Schwartz said that he mostly agreed, but added that the tipping effect was a fact of life in the software world. Sun has been very interested in driving Java as a dynamic platform that embraces innovation and does not shy away from it, he said, which is why it has incorporated effective support for PHP and Ruby and Perl and Python and is why it would continue to drive NetBeans as a developer platform that extended into non-traditional environments. Asked why he thought Sun had been so harshly criticized by Wall Street for not monetizing Java, which then prompted open-source supporters to claim that opening Java would enable Sun to monetize the technology further, Schwartz said that Sun needs to be careful to foster the community that drives new market opportunities for Java. "I want to make sure that Java continues to be a fountain for the community and not a water balloon that just breaks on the ground," he said. Asking Sun how it made money on Java is like asking Google how it made money on search. Consumers paid nothing for it, but that enabled a market for them to create and foster. "That is exactly how we look at Java: it simply standardizes the interactions between disparate systems to enable everyone to participate," Schwartz said. Sun had a responsibility to appeal to as broad and diverse a set of constituencies as possible and could closely follow the model Sun had used with Solaris and creating OpenSolaris, he said, adding that there were differences though. One was that Solaris had, unlike Java, never been the subject of a lawsuit, while the desktop market was far less competitive than the server space as one company (Microsoft) held some 90 percent share of that market, Schwartz said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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