Oracle's $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems means a new home for Java, and Java is doing just fine.
Indeed, if Sun could not remain independent and IBM dropped its bid for the system maker, the next best place for Java to land was Oracle.
Oracle is no stranger to Java and Java developers, and not only because of its Java-based middleware stack. Oracle has long supported Java with tools for developers and support in several industry attempts to advance Java and open technologies, such as Eclipse and other efforts that were not as successful. However, Oracle has done with Java what the company has always done best-gone its own way.
As industry observer Tony Baer said:
"Now that it "owns" the origins of the Java stack, we expect Oracle to provide counterweight to IBM/Eclipse, but as mentioned earlier, it will be one [born] of nuance rather than religion. You can see it already in Oracle's bifurcated Eclipse strategy, where its core development platform, JDeveloper, is not Eclipse-compliant, but the recently acquired BEA stack is. In some areas, such as Java persistence, Oracle has taken lead billing. Anyway, as Eclipse has spread from developer to run time platform, why would Oracle give up its position as a member of Eclipse's board."
This also begs the question of what Oracle will do with the Sun NetBeans open-source development tools platform, which competes with the Eclipse platform.
Meanwhile, Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, said, "Oracle's acquisition of Sun is unequivocally good for Java. Erasing uncertainty about the future of Sun as a business does the same for Java. Historically, Oracle has been a vocal supporter of a more open Java platform. Hopefully that will quickly translate into action on that front."
Some developers agreed with Milinkovich's assertion. Eugene Ciurana, a Java development guru and cloud computing enthusiast who had been leery of IBM acquiring Java, said, "I believe this is overall a very good thing for Java technologies. Oracle is more aggressive than IBM at marketing and they are more technology-savvy, plus they have the clout to fight IBM's hegemony in the Java Community Process to speed things up. Bringing GlassFish into their offerings makes Oracle an option for small, medium and large companies deploying Java applications. Big clients will use WebLogic, smaller shops can have GlassFish ... Overall, a better option than IBM for Java."
A developer and executive at an ISV in the Java ecosystem who requested anonymity said he believes the Oracle-Sun deal is good for Java. "Sun never figured out a way to make money on Java," the developer said. "And Oracle likely won't even try. I like the idea of having 'not IBM' controlling Java so there is a yin-yang balancing act for the technology. Oracle fighting with IBM at a peer level is actually better than the current balance of a dying Sun fighting with IBM. The tension will ensure that Java stays relatively on track. Everyone's infrastructure depends on Java EE app servers, so I don't expect Oracle will upset the apple cart. The fact that Sun licensed the Java source as GPL [General Public License] keeps anyone from doing anything interesting with it without signing a deal with Oracle anyway."
Meanwhile, another Java expert who requested anonymity said of the deal, "I think it's great. I was really worried [about] if IBM could handle it, and what it would have meant to the future of Java if IBM was the buyer. Oracle should have done the deal 'with' IBM to give IBM the hardware business and jointly owned or 'opened up' the Java/Solaris/software side of it, since it so greatly benefits both IBM and Oracle. In truth, IBM has the optimal business to benefit from Sun's hardware business, but only Oracle has the heft to deal with Sun's Java business and responsibilities."