How serious is IBM about open-source Java, given the open letter Rod Smith sent to Sun?
The question is how serious is Sun about it? Because we dont control Java. Sun controls the definition of Java and also the right of anybody to declare what theyre delivering as being Java. They own the trademark. So all certification and all trademarking of Java is owned by Sun. Any code that went into open source would not be called Java unless Sun certified it.
And there are restrictions around what one can do with code that comes from Sun as part of the Java [Community] Process. So our suggestion to Sun is that there are other ways to pursue the Java development process and Java management process that could be beneficial to expanding the market for Java. In that we have suggested to Sun before and we continue to suggest to Sun that they look at alternate ways to manage Java in the marketplace, in conjunction with the industry, to encourage its further expansion.
The open letter back to Sun was in direct response to the article in which Simon Phipps was quoted suggesting that if IBM thought there was something important here they should open-source Java technology. That statement doesnt make any sense. We dont have the right to open-source Java technology.
Well, what he suggested was that IBM open-source its clean-room implementation of Java.
I dont have such a thing. These things can be created, but, by the way, you cant call them Java. You could write something … Microsoft has C#, which looks a lot like Java, not identical, but certainly looks a lot like Java, and its not called Java. Microsoft was in a big [brou•ha•ha] with Sun for a while on their J++ offering, and there was a big debate over whether or not it deserved the Java trademark. And that was obviously litigated.
The dialogue in my opinion is not a bad thing. Our perspective is that Java has been enormously successful, and in looking at whats next for Java, I think it could be beneficial to rethink the Java process and the Java Community Process and look at how a more common, open industry standards process could be followed around Java, maintain consistency, and continue to extend the environment and encourage more adoption. Thats my perspective on this.
Sun spends a great deal of money managing and administering the process today. I think they could benefit financially from seeking a new process. Theres no question in anybodys mind here that the origin of this was Sun. They continue to be deserving of attribution. But that seems to me to be a different issue than how do you get Java more widely adopted in the market.
I also cover Web services, and IBM and Microsoft had been pretty much in lockstep on various standards. But recently it looks like you havent been. Are you going in different directions?
No, I dont think so. Our agreements to work together were never predicated upon a perpetual relationship. We came together because we wanted to encourage adoption around these XML-based structures that we refer to as Web services. And we felt there were areas of common interest that we can move on very quickly. A
At the same time were different companies, and our interests are not 100 percent aligned. Were going to do things separately as well as together. A good deal of progress has been made, and a lot of the structures have been laid. If you watch the pattern, weve brought others into the effort. Theres a lot of vetting that goes on through the workshops that we hold. And weve been pushing these standards toward more traditional standards bodies once we get some structure around them.
Both of us feel that things become truly standardized when the companies that have interest in that particular standard actually translate the specifications into code and push the code samples out the door as the initial instantiation of that particular structure. Now, standards efforts that are not backed up by code typically dont go very far.