Oracle and IBM agree to work together on OpenJDK

Yesterday Oracle and IBM hosted an analyst call to announce that they’ve agreed to collaborate on the future development of the OpenJDK for java, In addition the two companies stated that they will continue to work together to enhance the JCP.

As usual, here’s the compressed version:

  • This is good news
  • It’s positive to see Oracle willing to collaborate with IBM
  • Oracle still has to address some serious concerns surrounding the JCP
  • Java ME is dead, the future of Java on mobile devices is Java SE

This is good news

This is good for Java, and the Java community. IBM has committed to take the work it’s done on the Apache Harmony project and put this into the OpenJDK effort which represents (as Bob Sutor explains in his typically excellent blog posting on the topic) a “reverse forking” that will make OpenJDK a focal point for innovation.

Let’s face it – Oracle (with its acquisition of BEA and Sun) now has two of the top three contributors to the Java platform. IBM is undoubtedly in that group (at the very least IBM deserves credit as the number two, after Sun and before BEA) the combination of Oracle and IBM on this project is genuinely compelling.

It’s positive to see Oracle willing to collaborate with IBM

It’s also positive to see Oracle showing willingness to collaborate with IBM in this domain. Oracle is over-prone to trash talk when it comes to its number 1 competitor in the domains of databases and middleware, so the company deserves credit for being prepared to play nicely on the OpenJDK.

Oracle still has to address some serious concerns surrounding the JCP

Let’s be clear though, this announcement does nothing to address the real concerns that the java community has over the JCP. When asked during the briefing, Oracle made some positive comments about changes to the JCP – but went to pains to make it clear that we shouldn’t expect every one of the community’s demands to be met.

Oracle has to take some really meaningful steps to liberalise the JCP. Indeed, Oracle was one of the leading critics of Sun’s approach to the JCP, and as far back as 2007 (Well 2007 does seem like a long long time ago!) Oracle and BEA jointly promoted a resolution to open up the JCP :

Resolution 1 (proposed by Oracle, seconded by BEA)

“It is the sense of the Executive Committee that the JCP become an open independent vendor-neutral Standards Organization where all members participate on a level playing field with the following characteristics:

  • members fund development and management expenses
  • a legal entity with by-laws, governing body, membership, etc.
  • a new, simplified IPR Policy that permits the broadest number of implementations
  • stringent compatibility requirements
  • dedicated to promoting the Java programming model

Furthermore, the EC shall put a plan in place to make such transition as soon as practical with minimal disruption to the Java Community.”

(See the original here)

I believe that Sun’s unwillingness to open up the JCP while it was in charge limited the growth of the Java platform and stunted innovation. This may seem a little “bold” given the success of Java – but I think it’s true.

The problem with liberalising the JCP, of course, is “Licensing Revenues” – and I can’t help thinking that Oracle was moderately excited about the Licensing opportunities it had acquired – Especially in the domain of mobile Java.

I think Oracle needs to prepare itself for disappointment on that front.

Java ME is dead, the future of Java on mobile devices is Java SE

No, really. In fact, Java ME was always rubbish. Now that mobile devices have the computing power and UI characteristics that they do, it’s absurd to attempt to limit Java innovation and deployment by restricting these devices to the weedy and compatibility-challenged ME… It’s time to let go, and support SE on mobile devices.

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