10 Reasons Why Sun Is Still Relevant (and One Reason Why Not)

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10 Reasons Why Sun Is Still Relevant (and One Reason Why Not)

by Darryl Taft

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1. Java

Say what you will about Java, but Java is one of the most successful and widely used programming languages ever. It is not going anywhere any time soon. The Java language is a core component of the Java platform and it derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities. Java applications are typically compiled to bytecode that can run on any Java Virtual Machine (JVM) regardless of computer architecture .

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2. MySQL

Whatever happens with the Oracle/Sun deal, MySQL is a gem of a technology that has a loyal user base. MySQL is the world's most popular open-source database software, with more than 100 million copies of its software downloaded or distributed throughout its history. With its superior speed, reliability, and ease of use, MySQL has become the preferred choice for Web, Web 2.0, SAAS, ISV, Telecom companies and forward-thinking corporate IT managers because it eliminates the major problems associated with downtime, maintenance and administration for modern, online applications. MySQL is a key part of LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP / Perl / Python), the fast-growing open source enterprise software stack.

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3. The Sun Patent Portfolio

If nothing else, Sun's patent portfolio represents a gold mine of opportunity. Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz has pledged to use Sun's vast patent portfolio to protect Sun and its allies from competitive attacks. Sun invests approximately one-half of its substantial R&D budget in software development, particularly UNIX-based operating systems, development tools and application programs. The Sun portfolio includes patents for key technologies such as hardware components, chips, operating systems, networking, developer tooling, Web technologies, utilities and more.

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4. Open Source

Sun's commitment to open source has been questioned in that the company had to be dragged kicking and screaming to open-source Java, but once it decided to focus on open-source software, Sun went whole hog into the process. Sun offers Java and supporting technologies such as the GlassFish application server, the NetBeans tools suite for Java developers and the OpenSolaris operating system, among many other open-source offerings.

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5. JavaFX

JavaFX is an expressive client platform for creating and delivering rich Internet experiences across a variety of different screens. It combines the best capabilities of the Java platform with comprehensive, immersive media functionality into an intuitive and comprehensive, one-stop development environment. JavaFX has been criticized as a potential folly for Sun, as going up against Microsoft and Adobe in the RIA (rich Internet application) space is quite a task. However, Sun believes its focus on Java provides leverage. JavaFX provides a unified development and deployment model for building rich client applications. It also enables users to easily integrate audio and video, graphics, rich text and Web services.

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6. Java Store

The Java Store is a JavaFX-powered storefront that provides an easy and secure means of discovering and acquiring compelling Java and JavaFX applications. Social networking, games, productivity tools and business applications are examples of what you can download from the Java Store. This easy-to-use storefront is free, and is available for U.S. residents, as part of the Java Store Beta Program.

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7. The Sun Brain Trust

Sun maintains a deep bench of top-shelf technical talent, including James Gosling, the creator of the Java language. Other notable Sun technologists include Guy Steele, Greg Papadopoulos, Andy Bechtolsheim, Ian Murdock and others who have created much of Sun's intellectual property (IP).

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8. Suns Stewardship of the Java Community Process

Though oft-criticized as being heavy-handed, Sun's stewardship of the Java Community Process has helped shape and evolve the Java language and platform over the years.

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9. Suns Relationship with Developers

The success of the annual JavaOne conference indicates just how well Sun has connected with Java developers. The show has been a major success year after year. JavaOne is an annual conference (since 1996) that Sun puts on to discuss Java technologies, primarily among Java developers. It is not yet known whether there will be a JavaOne in 2010, with Oracle's acquisition of Sun looming over the process. According to the Moscone Center (the venue for the annual JavaOne events) schedule for 2010, JavaOne is slated for the end of June, but as yet there has been no call for papers for the event.

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10. Suns support for High Performance Computing (HPC)

As of November 2009, Sun doubled its number of entries on the Top 500 Supercomputing Sites list, since the June 2009 list, with a total of 11 deployments providing nearly 2 Petaflops.

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Reason Why Sun Is No Longer Relevant:

Oracle's acquisition of Sun has rendered the company relatively toothless until the deal is finally approved, as it is not yet clear what Oracle plans to do with all of the Sun technologies. The current setback in the European Commission over MySQL notwithstanding, right now about the only sure thing Sun has going for it is Java and its vast IP war chest.

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