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Sun Offers Extended Java SE Support for Businesses

04.07.2008
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In a move that probably surprised very few, Sun will begin to offer extended support for Java under the brand Java SE for Business. With the Open Source version of Java starting to bear fruit, Sun is finally able to execute on the "software as a service" model that has worked for some of the other big companies out there. According to this InternetNews.com article:

This product subscription platform is designed to offer more than double the time Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) will offer support for each platform release, provide faster access to technology updates and fixes and offer enterprise deployment features for customers.

Pricing is available in three tiers ranging from $10 to $12.50 per employee per year. This more comprehensive offering is aimed at enterprises and other customers that have come to rely on Java, but want a more reliable structure of support they can count on in a timely manner. The highest level, Premium Plus, includes support for Java SE for up to 15 years and includes the ability for a customer to request custom fixes from Sun.

Additionally, it looks like Sun will be providing some extra features not available in the normal support system, including support for Virtualization and integration with xVm Ops Center. All features tha the Business customers request and that get implemented will eventually be released under GPL into the mainstream Java.

With this announcement, I have to wonder: will anyone actually use this? The standard support for a Java release is 7 years 3 years, according to the article. Is there really anyone still using Java 1.2 or Java 1.3 for their production systems? Keep in mind this is for the Java SE system, not Java EE. I guess its possible that they're seeing customers who are not looking to upgrade past 1.4 and really need support. What version of Java are you guys using in your businesses? If you're running mainframes or sensitive systems, have you upgraded to at least Java 5?

Comments

Osvaldo Doederlein replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 8:07am

I certainly know companies that are still stuck in J2SE 1.3, because they have some old apps running on WebSphere 5.0. IBM released WAS 5.1 (which uses JDK 1.4) in 2004, but most clients typically wait a few fixpacks to start evaluating a new release; then they have several months of testing and migration... you're lucky if the new release begins production for limited, non-critical apps, within one year. Even then, migration is slowed by other factors like:

- "If it ain't broken, don't fix it" mentality.

- Reliance on proprietary features/APIs. These are typically carried over to the next rev of the same product, but when made obsolete by a standard API of the new J2EE spec, a decent migration requires changing the app to adopt the new API.

- Broken J2EE code that works on the old container (because it's less strict validating things), but makes the new server vomit your old EARs in the floor... or at least, log enough fear-inducing warnings that you don't risk your neck doing a migration before fixing those problems.

- Bad J2EE programming practices. Not directly related to the container, but to the maturity of developers. Most old J2EE projects that I see fail to follow basic rules, like using resource references for all JNDI bindings, so you can change a datasource in the server console and not in some property file or even in the source code.

- Dependency of updating other tools, like IDEs (WSAD -> RAD/RSA is a huge update), monitoring toosl, etc. Cost of all new licenses. Training.

These issues can happen to environments that use any server, but they're more common for WAS because IBM gives the example in sloooowwwwww updates to the latest J2EE specs... this triggers even more slowness in the clients. For one thing, people who like to be on top of the technology will even avoid working for companies that are pwned by IBM. So, these companies will have developers and admins who are (in the average) more conservative and less updated, and they don't push their managers hard enough to speed up the adoption of IBM's latest gear... for example, it's been some months that IBM released stable versions of their JavaEE5 "feature packs" for WAS 6.1, but I know absolutely zero people who are even evaluating these.

Now, Sun's announcement has nothing to do with platforms that have their own JavaSE VMs, like WebSphere (uses IBM JDK, which is supported by IBM). So, sorry for the offtopic rant. ;-)

Matthew Schmidt replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 12:32pm

For those interested, here is the official press release from Sun:

Sun Releases Java Platform Standard Edition For Business
Subscription Based Product Extends Sun's Industry-Leading Support for the Java SE Platform
 
Santa Clara, Calif. April 7, 2008 Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA), today announced the availability of Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) for Business, a new product subscription designed to more than double Sun's support periods for releases, provide faster access to technology updates and offer enterprise deployment features for customers. In addition, Sun also announced a redistribution agreement so that ISVs, service providers and integrators can offer Java SE for Business to their customers. Detailed information on Java SE for Business is available at: http://sun.com/software/javaseforbusiness.
 
"Java SE for Business was created based on the feedback Sun received from a large number of our customers and ISV's who requested we extend the amount of time that Sun provides updates for Java SE releases via a paid support offering. Customers and partners running Java applications on older release families now have a choice of either migrating to a newer release or subscribing to Java SE for Business to continue receiving critical reliability, availability and security updates, as well as new operating environment support for their existing applications," said Jeet Kaul, vice president, Client Software Group at Sun.
 
Java SE for Business is designed for customers looking for longer, more predictable support for the platform - up to 15 years per family. Sun will also continue to support the latest non-subscription release of Java SE, at no cost, and deliver three years of quarterly maintenance updates per release family. In addition, future releases of Java SE will continue to be developed under the General Public License version 2 (GPL v2) as part of the OpenJDK open source community at: http://openjdk.java.net/.
 
As part of the subscription service, Java SE for Business also offers customers faster access to mission critical reliability and security fixes through Java SE for Business Revisions. Customers will be able to get specific fixes that they request from Sun faster than ever before. In addition, Sun plans additional features for Java SE for Business including a new IT managed Java auto-update and integration with Sun xVM Ops Center. These features will enable IT managers to have greater visibility into Java software applications across their company, as well as increase their ability to manage these deployments.
 
Java SE for Business is available via a company wide license with three levels of support - standard, premium and premium plus and is priced per employee per year. It is available for Java SE version families 1.4, 5.0 and 6 and for the Solaris 10 Operating System (OS), Windows and Red Hat Linux. Customers running on Solaris OS can receive access to Java SE for Business for Solaris at no additional cost.
About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Roger Calnan replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 12:45pm

Matthew, I work for Sun in the Java SE group and saw your post, in it you have: "The standard support for a Java release is 7 years, according to the article." however internetNews.com unfortunately got this element of the story wrong. The change in Sun's business model for support will be 3 years per release family for Java SE, and up to 15 years of support per release family for subscribers of Java SE for Business. The goal of this change is to provide an option to consumers, developers, and businesses, where Sun will provide support for the latest release family as before, at no additional cost. For those interested in continuing to run on older release families with support, can to subscribe to obtain ongoing maintenance and support.

For more details see http://sun.com/software/javaseforbusiness

Thanks

Roger

 

Matthew Schmidt replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 12:52pm in response to: Roger Calnan

[quote=r6c]

Matthew, I work for Sun in the Java SE group and saw your post, in it you have: "The standard support for a Java release is 7 years, according to the article." however internetNews.com unfortunately got this element of the story wrong. The change in Sun's business model for support will be 3 years per release family for Java SE, and up to 15 years of support per release family for subscribers of Java SE for Business. The goal of this change is to provide an option to consumers, developers, and businesses, where Sun will provide support for the latest release family as before, at no additional cost. For those interested in continuing to run on older release families with support, can to subscribe to obtain ongoing maintenance and support.

For more details see http://sun.com/software/javaseforbusiness

Thanks

Roger

[/quote]

Hi Roger.  Thanks for correcting me on this.  Without a business package, what is the support lifespan for regular Java releases?  Is it 3 years?   

Roger Calnan replied on Mon, 2008/04/07 - 1:58pm

Matthew, yes that is correct.  The full details of the support durations have been pulled together on this page:

 http://java.sun.com/products/archive/eol.policy.html

 

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