Java Licensing Likely the Key Investigation Point
One of the key areas of concern for
the DOJ apparently was licensing of Sun's ubiquitous networking software, Java.
If the deal closes, Oracle will own the lion's share of the world's Web-based
networking software-in millions of endpoint devices and in thousands of data
centers and smaller IT systems.
Java works as well in handheld devices as it does in king-size enterprise servers and storage arrays; its influence on worldwide software development is huge.
All of Oracle's middleware runs on Java. More than 90 percent of the world's cell phones and connected portable devices use Java networking software to run on Web-based networks, and a growing percentage of the world's smart cards-an estimated 40 percent, according to IT research companies-use embedded Java chips to store personal, health and business information that can be accessed by card readers.
Java licensing is tricky to untangle, because up until November 2006, Java was a proprietary programming language owned in its entirety by Sun and licensed accordingly. From 1995 to 2006, Sun charged for licensing use of Java code and for affiliated services; now it gives away the code free of charge under a choice of open-source licenses, but still charges for implementation, ongoing maintenance and other services.
At the time the merger was announced back in April, Ellison noted that "all of our middleware is based 100 percent on Java" and said his company has "invested more than anybody else in Java technology in terms of dollars over the years, and we intend to invest-and accelerate our investments-going forward."