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IBM + Oracle: The Big Picture

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The announcement that IBM would be joining in the OpenJDK effort has received a lot of analysis already in the Java community. While a lot of people see this as a good thing, it seems that there might be one group who stand to lose out because of the news: Google.

With IBM joining the OpenJDK effort, the Harmony project is left out in the cold,  without IBM's support. This is bad news for Google, as their Dalvik VM relies on Harmony. Unless, of course, another company steps in to support Harmony. And is there any reason that this company couldn't be Google. It carries an expense to Google, but do they have any other options?

However, if we look at the bigger picture I think that the alliance is great news for the future of Java. Having another big driving force helping out the OpenJDK efforts should lead to getting new Java features added sooner, possibly improving the frequency of releases. I'm excited to see some level of collaboration between Oracle and IBM. Considering Eclipse and it's surrounding eco-system, IBM has shown that it knows how to guide a decent open source community.

Another important thing to point out is fragmentation - if Harmony is discontinued, we're back to having one open source version of Java. Surely this is better than a fragmented approach?

Earlier this week Alex put together a poll to guage community reaction to the news. As it stands, most people (62%) seem to think that this is a good thing for Java.


Andries Spies replied on Thu, 2010/10/14 - 9:59am

What is missing here is the fact that Oracle want to prevent the "Open" JDK to be used to in anything except desktop and server environments. This excludes the mobile world of cause. This may make lots of sense from a business perspective, but it begs the question why support a platform which cannot be used (legally) for embedded use? Is this truly "Open Source"? So Oracle gets the support of the open source community, and this enables them to wield a weapon against Google. Not that Google is so innocent, but personally I rather trust Google, than Oracle.

Stephen Colebourne replied on Thu, 2010/10/14 - 10:24am

"Another important thing to point out is fragmentation - if Harmony is discontinued, we're back to having one open source version of Java. Surely this is better than a fragmented approach?"

So, we should only have Oracle's app server then. No WebSphere, or JBoss or Geronimo. Wake up! The fragmentation argument is Oracle's corporate argument of fear. Having multiple implementations of Java EE and ME specs has been a Good Thing, why is SE different?


Fabrizio Giudici replied on Thu, 2010/10/14 - 11:24am

@Andries I'm not aware of any limitation of OpenJDK to be used on a mobile environment. What does make you think that it's impossible?

@Stephen Losing Harmony is a bad thing. We're surely less free, but not totally unfree having only OpenJDK. It's to be understood whether this remaining freedom is enough or not. I'd like to see some serious assesment of a scenario that suggests that it's not enough before getting worried.

Citing multiple implementations of JME doesn't sound reasonable: they caused the fragmentation (both in the runtimes and in the decision processes) and the very bad condition that today affects JME.

John J. Franey replied on Thu, 2010/10/14 - 11:37am in response to: Stephen Colebourne

@Stephen: Whats so Good about this?

Eric Bresie replied on Thu, 2010/10/14 - 11:44am in response to: Stephen Colebourne

@Stephen: One article I read indicated IBM and Oracle would be collaborating at the class library space and less in the JVM space. So there were still be competition between the two in that area. But who knows maybe this could change over time as well.

@Andre: I am little confused on what the problem is on the mobile front. I suspect this is differences in licensing but not sure. On the JavaME (phoneME) front, the Java (openJDK) front, and TCK front, I believe things may have been licensed differently. Is this the concern? Is it the concern that phone vendors cannot include some form of Java in their product without paying royalties to Oracle? As they (via Sun) were the originators of the openJDK codebase, is this too much to ask? By licensing it, you now formalize your stake in things which allow potential support,

Maybe the concern is that for each phone a royalty is paid which get's expensive quick.

I think in the end, this brings together a lot more smart people to move things forward...Assuming that company politics don't interfere as they have before.

Andy Gibson replied on Thu, 2010/10/14 - 4:06pm in response to: Stephen Colebourne

>Having multiple implementations of Java EE and ME specs has been a Good Thing, why is SE different?

 In theory it's a good thing, but then people turn around and whine that Java EE servers are not 100% compatible. For a server implementation it's one thing to have to tweak some configuration code to get it working, it's a whole other thing to have to modify your core source code because of JVM incompatabilities.

 The further down the stack you go, the more solid, stable and dependable you want it. Having different JVM versions with their own quirks is not a world most people would want to develop in (See CSS incompatabilities for more details)



Andrea Polci replied on Fri, 2010/10/15 - 2:04am in response to: Fabrizio Giudici

@Fabrizio once I read in a blog there is a problem in the way patent rights get transmissed using GPL 2.0. In GPL 3.0 patents are explicitly considered in the license, in GPL 2.0 there is an inplicit and limited trasmission. The blog I read states that this protection doesn't extend to mobile environment in the specific case. Unfortunatly now I cannot find a reveference to the blog so don't take my word as true but just as an hint on what the problem can be. Andrea

Smeltet Kerne replied on Fri, 2010/10/15 - 3:00am

I really don't see how IBMs retreat from Harmony is bad for Google. The void left by IBM can be filled by Google and Google gets more influence on a piece of software thats central to their platform. I can't imagine Google will abandon Harmony after all their quick rise to success in mobile is based among other things on luring a percentage of the millions of java developers rather than building a developer ecosystem from scratch.

Daniele Gariboldi replied on Fri, 2010/10/15 - 4:07am

@Fabrizio OpenJDK cannot be used on (mobile and custom) devices because of a limit of use on JCK license to certify conformance of a particular implementation on those devices. In Google's lawyers response to Oracle they cite this as unfair an a counter sense being Java released as open source (but they don't say it is GPL and Android is Apache ....).

As for IBM and OpenJDK, it's good for java and IBM has enough patents to keep calm Oracle's lawyer.

I hope for a Google-Oracle agreement where Dalvik 4.0 will be based on OpenJDK core, with Android libraries as extensions. Google could carry its expertise into a JIT implementation optimized on ARM family of CPUs.

Everything depends on money amount: how much Oracle can earn (long term) from Google lawsuite versus how much money/resources Google can invest in java (and promoting the android mobile market) and make that a saving/opportunity for Oracle.




Claude Lalyre replied on Fri, 2010/10/15 - 10:48am

Assuming that the Dalvik VM is not 100% fully compatible with the Java STANDARD, that's a mess ! It's unforgivable regarding to the Java community ! I hope Google won't have any financial penality, but I wished they will be forced to go back to full compatibiblity with Java standards, avoiding community fragmentation ! You, as a Java lobby, should enforce such issue ! You do need some standard efforts, and we need to keep the "run anywhere" of Java paradigm !

Vitaly Mikheev replied on Fri, 2010/10/15 - 2:58pm


     >>This is bad news for Google, as their Dalvik VM relies on Harmony.

Dalvik VM relies on Harmony?  You overstate: Harmony was just a "donor" of (a subset of) standard Java classes like java.lang.* and java.util.* for Android. That's all.



   >>Having multiple implementations of Java EE and ME specs has been a Good Thing, why is SE different?

OpenJDK, JRockit, IBM J9 are multiple Java SE implementations that are still with us. What are you talking about?


Instant Tax Sol... replied on Thu, 2011/08/04 - 11:17am

A battle of two hardware is about turf in enterprise data centers as well as the companies that are building cloud services. Think of the hardware war as a land grab among cloud computing farmers. -Instant Tax Solutions

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