IBM and Oracle Join to Support OpenJDK, the Future of Java

Two leading supporters of Java, Oracle and IBM, announced a partnership to collaborate on the OpenJDK open source implementation of Java.

Oracle and IBM announced plans to collaborate to enable developers to build and innovate based on existing Java investments and the OpenJDK reference implementation.

The two leading Java supporting companies announced the collaboration on Oct. 11 in a news conference. Specifically, the companies will collaborate in the OpenJDK community to develop the leading open-source Java environment, Oracle and IBM officials said.

The two companies will make the OpenJDK community the primary location for open source Java SE development. The JCP (Java Community Process) will continue to be the primary standards body for Java specification work and both companies will work to continue to enhance the JCP.

The collaboration will center on the OpenJDK project, the open source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) specification, the Java Language, the JDK (Java Development Kit) and the JRE (Java Runtime Environment).

"This is a significant step for IBM and Oracle to collaborate to accelerate Java through the OpenJDK community," said Hasan Rizvi, Oracle's senior vice president for Oracle Fusion Middleware and Java, during the news conference.

Oracle and IBM will support the recently announced OpenJDK development road map, which accelerates the availability of Java SE across the open-source community.

"The Java community is vital to the evolution of the Java platform," Rizvi said. "The collaboration between Oracle and IBM builds on the success of OpenJDK as the primary development platform for Java SE."

"IBM, Oracle and other members of the Java community working collaboratively in OpenJDK will accelerate the innovation in the Java platform," said Rod Smith, vice president, emerging technologies at IBM, who also took part in the news conference. "Oracle and IBM's collaboration also signals to enterprise customers that they can continue to rely on the Java community to deliver more open, flexible and innovative new technologies to help grow their business."

Java is a general-purpose software development platform that is specifically designed to be open and enable application developers to "write once, run anywhere." The platform is most widely used in business software, Web and mobile applications.

This move with IBM and Oracle collaborating on OpenJDK, "really starts to take away the uncertainty around the future of Java," Smith said. "Our commitment to OpenJDK will be good for the whole Java community."

Smith noted that despite the collaboration, IBM and Oracle will continue to compete on their own products based on Java. "Of course we will compete on our commercial offerings, but we will now increase the level of collaboration around advancing Java technology innovation by working together on an open-source Java SE reference implementation," he said.

"This signals real long-term support for Java technology," Smith added.

"This announcement is a win for Java because it brings the community together," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. "Having both Oracle and IBM directly involved in evolving the platform can only help increase the pace of innovation. It will be interesting to see which other major players in the Java ecosystem may be enticed aboard as well."

Moreover, "I also think that this announcement will be good for the Eclipse community as well. First, generally speaking, what is good for Java is good for Eclipse. That which expands Java's adoption and momentum helps us. Second, IBM and Oracle are the two largest supporters of Eclipse in terms of active committers on Eclipse projects. Seeing them increasing their collaboration at OpenJDK bodes well for future community collaborations across the board."

Al Hilwa, program director for applications development software at IDC, told eWEEK:

""To me this is about developer mind-share around Java. It shows that Oracle is not alone in trying to evolve Java more aggressively, perhaps making changes to the JCP process. It shows that the two biggest players in Java are on board with respect to the future. It is about the road map going forward which finally begins to show some realistic planning in trying to get the capabilities out in two waves. Java is under threat of both stagnation and fragmentation. The more vendors pull together working to the resolution of these problems the better. Here we see the two biggest ones showing that they get these threats and since their businesses depend on it and so does the livelihood of millions of developers, they are going to take action to push through some changes in the language and potentially even fixing the broken and over-politicized JCP process.""

Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop Technologies and creator of the Java-based Eclipse Mylyn project, said, "Following disappointments around this year's JavaOne conference, developer discussions often landed on the question of a Java fork. For those concerned about the fragmentation that a fork would cause, this announcement sends an important signal of Open JDK becoming the open-source future of vendor collaboration around Java. IBM has brought about some of the key developments that helped Java succeed, such as the initial contribution of the Eclipse IDE. With the resources of Oracle and the innovation of IBM focused on Open JDK, Java developers and adopters alike are getting a new level of assurance that the multivendor ecosystem that has Java will continue to thrive. [The remaining question is the health of the JCP.]"