Dealing With Java

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-03-04 Print this article Print

When it comes to Java though, Sun needs to do something. As Eric Raymond points out, Java has never really caught on in the open source world and Microsofts Visual Studio line has really gained traction in the Windows world. Historically, of course, where you really get good out of Java isnt in desktop programming, but on servers with Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE).

And how is Sun doing in the J2EE market? Not well. According to BZ Researchs, a research group that studies software development, 2003 Java Study, Sun ONE App Server, Suns J2EE Server, comes in fifth with 14 percent of the market. That follows IBMs WebSphere, BEAs WebLogic, Oracles application server and, oh the irony of it all, open source JBoss fourth place with 27 percent of the market.

That tells us several things. First, Sun may have the most control over Java, but it has not been able to turn that into commercial success. The second is that JBoss is clearly showing that you can make money from open sourcing elements of Java. And, last but really not least, IBM is already the biggest Java business dog.

Perhaps thats the real crux of the matter for Sun. Its afraid that if the Java Community Process (JCP) was really a group of equals and Java was open source, IBM would, as one Jakarta, Apaches open source Java tools effort, leader put it, "Take over Java."

You know what, I think that is a real issue. IBM could do it because IBM gets open source and knows how to take business advantage of it and Sun doesnt. But, Sun could learn. You see utilizing open source doesnt mean just sharing your code, it means changing your business model to take advantage of it. Yes, for Sun this would mean a change in business models to a services and support one rather than hardware sales centric one, but Sun could do it.

Despite Suns recent talks with IBM about opening up Java, I doubt they will. Sun doesnt work and play well with others unless its in charge and that wouldnt be the case if Java is open sourced.

Still, as someone who has liked SPARC, Solaris and Java over the years, I hope Sun does start really utilizing open source. I really think its the best way for both Sun and Java to prosper. And, if that means that Sun will have to follow IBMs open source example, instead of fighting against Big Blue, then so be it. Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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