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Oracle Adds New Exhibit to Java Technology Museum

04.22.2009
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Last year, Oracle acquired BEA Systems, the hottest company in enterprise Java…until around 2001.Today, they announced the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, the architects of the infrastructure of the dot com era. Remember the “dot in dot com”?

Both companies represent the history of enterprise Java, and are far less important to the future.

Larry Ellison states that “Java is the single most important software we've ever acquired.” Ellison is right about the importance of Java: Java is the world’s #1 programming language and the dominant choice of the enterprise. But the question is exactly what has Oracle acquired? There is no purpose to be served by Oracle trying to milk the Java language itself for profit–and, in any case, it's now open enough to make that impossible. (Open sourcing Java did turn out to matter. A lot.) And it is a long time since Sun controlled enterprise Java in a meaningful way.

While the FAQ on the deal states that “Oracle can now ensure continued innovation and investment in Java technology for the benefit of customers and the Java community,” in reality, innovation around the Java platform has long been driven by developers, through open source—not mega vendors. Community innovation has transformed productivity and propelled enterprise Java out of the stone age of Sun-architected J2EE.

Oracle’s business strategy may be smart—acquiring distressed vendors and milking their revenue stream while cutting costs is certainly helping them post good numbers. But it’s not a strategy about innovation.

Of course, this isn’t just about Java. This deal gives Oracle a shot at important elements it has lacked: a credible open source story and a cloud strategy. How Oracle deals with the former element is key. With MySQL, Oracle has the ability to prove it is serious about open source. Thus far, Oracle has neither enjoyed nor seemed to seek open source success, even as open source becomes more and more important. (Unbreakable Linux was quickly recognized by the market as a clumsy attempt to capitalize on the open source efforts of others.) Serious commitment to MySQL could change this. However, it also potentially competes with Oracle’s flagship database product. The same issue applies to GlassFish and WebLogic.

Additionally, does Oracle really want to get into the hardware business, as the FAQ implies–at time when virtualization is threatening server sales? Is Oracle committed to trying to maintain portability between application servers, now it has control of the JCP? We’ll have to wait for many months for the answers to these questions, especially as the deal won’t close until summer.

But this uncertainty doesn’t impact enterprise Java, whose future lies elsewhere. We agree with Oracle that enterprise Java has a big future. In fact, we are convinced we can help take it to the next level of productivity. But Oracle does not own that future. One of the great strengths of Java is its developer and open source community. This is something that cannot be bought in the same way as a PeopleSoft or WebLogic application server business.

From http://blog.springsource.com
Published at DZone with permission of its author, Rod Johnson.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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Comments

Jakob Jenkov replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 3:52am

Nice post, Rod, but your focus on "open source is the future" lacks the downsides to open source as a business model:

1) Without *MONEY* being paid for either software, documentation or related services , sooner or later we software developers will end up as poor artist doing what we do for fun. There has got to be money somewhere in the loop, for us to have a job. Making money isn't necessarily greedy. If you provide great value, what's so bad about charging money corresponding to that value (okay, less than that value, to make the software attractable)???

I've always wondered if those who so strongly advocates for "free software" would actually go ahead, and take this inevitable step: Go to your boss, and tell you will work for free, so that your software can be free too. I know, I know... make money on the "services"... but then the open source / free software advocates gets really pissed, and claim you are just trying to sucker them in, to suck money out of them with these services. Come on guys, we need a SALARY to make a living on this. It has got to come from somewhere, and that means that there's got to be money somewhere in the loop.

2) What I have seen in Java is an open source communit both driving innovation, but also frustrating a lot of users. With hundreds, perhaps even thousands of open source projects to choose from, which should I choose? Sometimes I would have been happier with a good solution from Sun, that everyone knew how to use. That way I could hire developers with that skill, and share experiences with other people. Today, I often get the answer "I don't know, I haven't used that project. I've used XYZ and ABC, and IJK etc." ...

Is this really where we want to se Java go? With so many choices you have no way of knowing if you are choosing the best tool for the job? No way of knowing if you are betting your business on an open source project that runs out of steam next year?

... sometimes I am thinking that the .NET camp are lucky b...stards. The MS camp is used to pay for software, so they don't expect yours to be free either.

... after all, "Free" just means somebody else pays. In time, or with cash. But somebody IS paying for "Free" software, somewhere in the loop.

I'd actually rather see the Java community focus on "affordable" software, than "free" software. I don't mind paying for software, as long as the value I get from it, is more than what I have to pay for it. The value of software for a big company is different from the value a small company gets (converted to $). That's why we see these huge price tags on enterprise software. If we could just pay according to what that software helped us make... now that would be great... but raises a lot of other questions too, that'll have to wait for another post.

Just my 5 cents on the topic... but at least 5 cent is still money :-)

Wai Ho replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 4:15am in response to: Jakob Jenkov

I'd actually rather see the Java community focus on "affordable" software, than "free" software. I don't mind paying for software, as long as the value I get from it, is more than what I have to pay for it.

 

From FOSS (free open source software) to OSAS (open source affordable software). Good plan.

David Lee replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 8:37am in response to: Jakob Jenkov

I couldn't agree more.   Choosing which frameworks to use in Java is about as bad as choosing a linux distro.  Choice is good, but I'm tired of hearing "right tool for the job". I find this to be a lame excuse for too many choices. 

Open source as a business model is simply flawed.  Flawed as currently practiced, not impossible. When some purchases Red Hat it should be the final nail in the coffin of the current failed experiment. 

Had Sun figured out how to monetize java, their fate might of been different.

It's pretty clear, that open source as a business model, depends on shotty software and/or documentation that requires paid support, or building a community and being bought out.  Sun actually made pretty good software and most of us never required pay support, hence, sun made little money from its software business as more of it became open sourced.

More affordable software is the answer.  I wouldn't say less open source, just fewer businesses based on the current oss model.

 

 

 

 

David Parry replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 8:42am

Is it just me but this is very scary has any one ever had to get a trouble ticket for support on these great expensive products. When OS you can go to the source to find the problem if you are a developer. So now this is going to be IBM vs Oracle/JAVA vs Redhat maybe its time for a new language. Its funny i have seen some of the excellent pay for code that runs the products that are paid for now i know why they wont share the source :-)

Casper Bang replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 9:47am

Sun had this weird pendulum approach, very much visible in Java itself. Focus swinging from side to side, too slow to actually have an impact and eventually loosing interest without finishing the job. First we had Java SE with the applet stuff which was crap, then focus changed to EE, then ME, then EE again (less crappy) and then finally SE in the form of JavaFX, though again too little too late.

Open source models do work, we see that many other places. But there needs to be more focus on context and innovation, than the showing off of fancy demo's at conferences and the pointless reciting of JME deployment numbers. One thing is sure though, Sun's top people are not the ones who will have to pay for these mistakes.

And I think Jacob is spot on. The vast majority of developers incl. me, would rather have something de-facto that's simple and "good enough" rather than having to wade through the ocean of choices and cross their fingers that it won't be a liability or deprecated in a few years. Even if Microsoft excels at delivering a developer friendly experience, we still do have the option of open source thanks to the Mono community. It's interesting that in the end, it seemed Sun wasn't willing to truly embrace their open source promise, in their continued refusal to certify Apache Harmony as Java.

John Denver replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 11:10am

Java is toast with this deal. Oracle it is not interested in Open Source and of course we will get our community download edition with 30 days trial with high performance jvm, It sucks for Java this time. Im thinking go with the .Net offer, .Net is propetary as Java is now, The GPL does not help Java at all. Anyway C# it is ECMA/ISO is in better position and more safe spot than Java.

So long Java!.

John Denver replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 11:13am

By the way really Sun was dumb to not let go Java as an ISO standard, now we Java programmers will suffer this problem.

Oracle is bloatware and propetary company it really sucks for Java , its a shame.

Developer Dude replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 11:19am

Too much choice in Java/Open Source? Maybe. There are a lot of projects out there that never got out of beta, or died a quiet death, or never had code checked in, or were abandoned when something better came along, or they just aren't maintained well. There are some very good choices out there though, and yes some significant duplication (some of it probably due to ego and/or NIH syndrome), but I like the ability to easily find what I need and I like a lot of choice over no or little choice.

A month or so ago I was asked to spend a few minutes finding a .NET lib for a client (I think it was to do SFTP/TSL). I couldn't find much if anything in the way of Open Source (that I recall), and I found only 2 or 3 commercial candidates. Compared to Java the pickings seemed very slim.

As for Oracle buying Sun and its effect on Java. I have serious reservations about Oracle. I would have preferred IBM which seems much friendlier to Java and Open Source IMO. I also don't see Oracle caring much about the mobile and other Java SDKs which Sun has maintained - I would bet that they will only care about JSE and JEE and let most of the rest die off.

There isn't much I can do about it but sit back and see what happens. Hopefully Java will stay alive long enough for me to retire. I don't care to go back to MS/Windows only dev, or C++.

Otengi Miloskov replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 11:23am

We could replace Java with Erlang. Erlang is looking sexy this times for Server Side, Web and distribute computing.

replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 1:22pm


1) Without *MONEY* being paid for either software, documentation or related services , sooner or later we software developers will end up as poor artist doing what we do for fun. There has got to be money somewhere in the loop, for us to have a job. Making money isn't necessarily greedy. If you provide great value, what's so bad about charging money corresponding to that value (okay, less than that value, to make the software attractable)???

I've always wondered if those who so strongly advocates for "free software" would actually go ahead, and take this inevitable step: Go to your boss, and tell you will work for free, so that your software can be free too. I know, I know... make money on the "services"... but then the open source / free software advocates gets really pissed, and claim you are just trying to sucker them in, to suck money out of them with these services. Come on guys, we need a SALARY to make a living on this. It has got to come from somewhere, and that means that there's got to be money somewhere in the loop.

 

 

I really do agree with Jakob on this one. Unfortunately, many FOSS/OSS proponents think that charging money is evil but that it is how we put food on the table for our families.A lot of them would refuse to pay for *any* software including their own whether its for the product or any related services and its comical and sad at the same time. *Sigh*

 Open source and affordable sounds like a great idea but I doubt that the die hards would want to listen. 

Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 2:34pm

Like many other articles, it's trying very hard to educate and tell Oracle what to do. We're all nervous what's going to happen. We should perhaps collectively ask Oracle to introduce themselves and make a few statements. They have some friends to make. Treat them nicely, treat us nicely, and it'll be a mutually fruitful relationship. This might be a new type of relationship for Oracle. Not good would be utter silence.

We all want some clarification from Oracle (not Sun) at this point.

Andrew McVeigh replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 4:55pm

I'm worried about where Oracle will take Java, also, as they haven't been particularly charitable in the past regarding open source.  They certainly use it for competitive advantage against others though, when it suits them. 

However, we've mostly got a tiny fraction of skin in the game compared to IBM and other vendors (including SpringSource).  I just hope this doesn't play into the hands of .Net. 

Open sourcing Java did turn out to matter. A lot.

Absolutely true, whether via coincidence or design.  I guess the only thing that Oracle completely own which can't be replaced at the moment is the TCK and the trademark.  We can forgo the latter but probably not easily the former. 

I'm still trying to be optimistic on this one, and hope that Oracle choose to do the right thing for the community and form an independent Java foundation.   They certainly used to harp on about it enough in the JCP notes. 

Andrew 

Jean Kealles replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 6:18pm in response to: Wai Ho

WaiHo said

From FOSS (free open source software) to OSAS (open source affordable software). Good plan.

 The F in FOSS does not stand for $0, so I don't think this new name of yours is a good idea.

Jean Kealles replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 6:17pm in response to: John Denver

Sidewinder said:

 .Net is propetary as Java is now, The GPL does not help Java at all.

Don't be daft. Oracle cannot undo the GPL-licensing of the code. They can of course change the license on any new Java code, but they cannot stop us from forking the existing GPL code. (We might not be able to call it Java though. But I don't think there's any chance of Oracle doing someting that stupid.

Jean Kealles replied on Wed, 2009/04/22 - 6:29pm in response to:

topnotch said

Unfortunately, many FOSS/OSS proponents think that charging money is evil but that it is how we put food on the table for our families.A lot of them would refuse to pay for *any* software including their own whether its for the product or any related services and its comical and sad at the same time. *Sigh*

The F in FOSS stands for Free-as-in-Freedom, not as in $0 (again). Nobody prevents you from asking others to pay for your GPL-ed software. Also, you're not required by the GPL to distribute your source code to everyone, only to those who you distribute the binary version of the software to. Be that for a price equal to or higher than $0. Asking for money for your FOSS sofware is not a problem at all.

(The GPL is just used as an example - similar reasonings go for other Free Software Licenses)

Jeroen Wenting replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 1:34am

ah, another "Java is dead" post (however flowery you put it). I'd have expected better from Rod.

Andrew McVeigh replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 5:52am in response to: Jeroen Wenting

ah, another "Java is dead" post (however flowery you put it). I'd have expected better from Rod.
  I'd be worried too, if I was Rod or any other middleware vendor based on Java.  It wouldn't surprise me if Oracle kept JSE as is (free, unencumbered) but started pushing JEE towards the Oracle stack.  

Dominique De Vito replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 7:05am

From previous merges, one thing is somewhat new: the open source effect/impact.

For example, a company closing an office suite will then end the life of this suite.
Oracle can't do exactly the same thing due to OpenOffice nature.

I see one reason: OpenOffice has already been forked, see Go-oo.

And maybe other products inside SUN portfolio could gain a longer life this way.

Dominique
http://www.jroller.com/dmdevito

 

 

Roy Bailey replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 8:37am

Sun has done a great service to OOS and it would have been nice to see the software stack transform the company fortunes. I've enjoyed the journey so far and think highly of the company and people involved, whatever happens now.

Always seemed to me innovation spread SUNs money too thin and reach too far. I would have preferred to see SUN remain more focused on Enterprise solutions, rather than spend time and money chasing new markets and re-inventing frameworks.

Oracle is a good home for Java, given their investment in it and their place in the Enterprise market. I expect Oracle to bring focus on Java's core Enterprise strength and ensure a long shelf life. That's good. It will be interesting to see what Oracle does with the OOS stack SUN has put together, and what the OOS community do in response.

Andrew McVeigh replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 2:01pm in response to: Jean Kealles

Also, you're not required by the GPL to distribute your source code to everyone, only to those who you distribute the binary version of the software to.

This is certainly true, but the recipient of the source code is then also free under the GPL to give the source to anybody willing to adhere to the GPL terms.  i.e. if you charge me $500 for a GPL program and then send me the source, there is absolutely nothing stopping me from putting it on the net for all to take. 

 

George Daswani replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 8:54pm

  1. I believe this might actually be good thing for Java.  I personally hope that Oracle gets rid of JavaFX and improve Swing.  Maybe even base their Oracle Fusion Middle ware client on Java using Swing  (cross platform) and finally start to improve it (instead of leaving it neglected).  Oracle uses Java and Swing in alot of their products (oracle db installers for one).  Maybe even work with IBM to redefine it using some ideas from SWT.

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