So Oracle is buying Sun…


I woke up this morning to the news of Oracle’s agreement to buy Sun and I naturally have to wonder about what this means for Java and Java 7. Oracle has been focused on Java as the common language for enterprise software for a long time so I think this makes great strategic sense for Oracle. It raises lots of questions though.

First, what is the future of Java as a language and a spec? If you think of enterprise computing and Java you can’t help but come up with another big blue company with similar interests. IBM and Oracle clearly have staked out the same territory and bet on the same language. Surely Oracle will want to derive all the strategic value they can from the acquisition and subsequent control of the JCP. I can’t imagine that they would be willing to give up that control of the JCP in favor of a more open organization.

That’s a shame as I think all parties would be served in the long run by having a truly open Java run by a truly open organization. I’d love to see Oracle give up the reserved seats and allow the JCP to be truly democratic (or as democratic as any standards organization run by companies with competitive interests can be) but I just don’t see that happening.

It is possible that Oracle will have a different position on the disagreement with Apache regarding the field of use terms Sun has been blocking on for years now. For one thing, that would allow the disagreement in the JCP to finally be resolved and maybe unstick the Java SE 7 JSR. Getting Java 7 back on track does seem to be in Oracle’s interest so maybe we can hope that this is a turning point in that battle.

Regardless of the field of use issue, I can only imagine that an Oracle acquisition means that Java 7 will be delayed. Integrating into a new company is a painful process and involves time to formulate strategies, reorganize lines of business and teams, possibly layoffs and almost certainly people leaving of their own accord, switching to new IT, HR, and other systems. All of that means time away from building software and the goals for Java 7 already seemed tight to me. I can only imagine that this slips the timeframe 3-6 months. Maybe a miracle occurs though and Oracle breathes new resources into it to keep things on track. After all, adding more people always makes things ship faster, right? ;)

Thinking outside the language, what about the JVM? There are really only three companies doing significant innovative work in the JVM world – Sun, Oracle’s JRockit, and IBM. Here we are seeing Sun and JRockit come together. I sincerely hope they both stick around. They use very different approaches and I think there is room for both to survive. However, I’m sure the pencil pushers at Oracle may see things differently. Due to the importance of Hotspot and its centrality as the reference implementation, I think I’d bet my money on it to survive vs JRockit. But maybe the two teams can actually share resources and take the best of both worlds. In any case, I hope John Rose is still present and pushing things forward. And how does IBM respond to this? Do they soldier on with their JVM or give up? I have such a strong belief in the importance of VMs over the next decade that I hate to see any source of innovation in the VM world decline.

It’s hard to say what this means for the future of dynamic languages on the JVM. Clearly, Charles Nutter seems pretty committed to the success of JRuby regardless. I suspect that Oracle can be pretty on board with this. Java is their market right now but they always need to be creating the “next wave” of stuff to sell more product. I’m sure dyn langs are another possible option there. I can’t see any reason why they would wish to slow down those options. It will be interesting to see if the JVM Language Summit does actually get held this year and how the Oracle influence will change the direction, if at all.

And what about app servers? Oracle is still trying to get its arms around integrating all the stuff from BEA. Is Glassfish a goner? Or will Oracle just “donate” it to Eclipse or Apache? In many ways, Glassfish has really been doing some fascinating work so I’d hate to see support for it dropped. Maybe donation to an open source community would be its best possible chance to thrive.

Oracle now owns MySQL of course. Many people see MySQL as the open source alternative to Oracle so I’m sure this change is going to be hard to take. “All ur database belong to us.” I wonder if this will drive forks of MySQL or an uptick in Postgres use. I guess it really depends on what Oracle does with it but it’s hard to see any way this makes the MySQL community happy.

In happier news, I think this will probably be a nice boon for OpenOffice. I use it all the time and while it’s a little fugly, I am pretty happy with it as an alternative to Microsoft Office. Seems like Oracle could use it as a real competitor against Microsoft and maybe improve the quality a bit. I’d love to see any attention paid to it.

It certainly will be interesting seeing what Oracle does with all this stuff and how IBM will respond to the threat.


10 Responses to “So Oracle is buying Sun…”
  1. Wille says:

    I wouldn’t hold my breath for Open Office improvements, Oracle’s track record on client applications is poor at best.

    From personal experience, I’ve had to hack Oracle installers to make them work at all, dealt with Oracle ATS which doesn’t work _at all_ etc etc… That’s not even touching on the bewildering and convoluted menus, options etc their applications usually have..

  2. Yet another reason to focus on Ruby.

    It was nice Java….we’ll miss you.

  3. Robert says:

    Ruby is NOT even a player at the Java enterprise level.

  4. Sakuraba says:

    >> Yet another reason to focus on Ruby.
    >> It was nice Java….we’ll miss you.

    That made me laugh.

  5. fercho says:

    bye java, bye…
    java open source ????

  6. Nick says:

    But what about “java 2.0″ as opposed to JVM-hosted dynamic languages? Is this acquisition likely to influence the future of, say, Scala?

  7. Daniel Shaw says:

    I’m with Wille, I’d be surprised if Oracle puts any resources into OpenOffice. Their client apps are wretched. …at most, if they do decide to keep it around, don’t expect any UI improvement. They’re generally worse than OpenOffice on the fugly scale.

    Other than that, I totally agree. Oracle needs the Java community to be healthy to continue with its Enterprise goals. Doing anything to significantly hamper that community would be like shooting itself in the foot.

  8. Alex says:

    @Nick: Sure, it influences what resources Oracle puts toward JVM development in the dyn lang area. Hotspot guys have been doing great stuff in that direction under JSR 292 but who knows whether that will be allowed to continue.

  9. losthopeonJava says:

    First of all.. greedy eli and son company are never been developer friendly. I can imagine they will start charging JDK downloads or force customers to pay pricey licenses for every JREs installed. Even their jdbc driver is not free before remember?.

    Obviously, they will ignore Java as platform and focus more on “enterprisey” Java to capture big fat market shares. J2ME, JINI, JXTA, etc2 developers will be left rot in hell by eli and sons. I doubt they will continue their support on Java and other sun noble offering(ex, opensolaris). I can imagine eli and son said,.”you java, jsf developer can f**k off ok,.. we will never care about you loosers”.

    eli and son will be a dictator on JCP, put pressure on Java openness and developer communities as whole. Eli and son have never been a supporter of open sourcing Java and J2EE, any supporter of this movements can only be dreamed.

    He will also says “Hey we don’t need you developers, We already have our own developers dogs at our HQs,.. so why not you find another jobs,.. working part time at mall would be suit for ya”

    Yeah,.. maybe they will continue to release JDK free,.. but full with uncorrected bugs and it will even persist until end of his company or world.

    sigh.. I have been Java developer for a decade, now I think it’s time for me to leave Java totally. As developer I never trust eli and son.. and I unwilling to bow to those greedy corporations.

    Its time for me to switch to python and ruby.

  10. paul says:

    Java future under Oracle. Although all of this is all pure speculation, I cannot see Oracle doing something negative with Java. Java is the lingua-franca of the Enterprise. It is Oracle’s Enterprise language. It is IBM’s Enterprise language. It is the fortune 500 Enterprise language. Oracle knows this all too well. They are not about to p.o. the entire Enterprise community nor the developer community by messing with the success of Java. The hope is that they will include more Open Source solution providers to the influence table. Since Java is now GPL, I would think the last thing Oracle wants is a fork of Java. They are going to want to continue to ensure that Oracle’s products and Peoplesoft products work and perform well with a standards based Java.

    I have to agree with others about Open Office. The best thing Oracle can do is to hire the people that are key to Open Office, set them up in their own separate Office space and keep them far away from the rest of the Oracle Development staff. Oracle’s client facing application stack is in one word; HORRIBLE. In two words, HORRIBLE AND ABYSMAL!

    The only good client or development tool I have ever used, which Oracle provides that I can say kind words about is JDeveloper (which they originally bought from Borland). Alas, as Porky Pig says, duhdiduhdiduhdi, that’s all folks!

    How good are the default Oracle Financial tools? Would you go to a dentist who still uses pliars to pull your teeth? Or who uses ether to put you to sleep?

    How good is sqlplus? Better than some, but for a database solution as expensive as Oracle, I have seen much better tools from the Open Source world.

    Face it, Oracle doesn’t know very much about making good client or development tools, outside of JDeveloper. I would hate to see what butchering they could do with Open Office. My recipe is for Oracle to hire and remove from the campus. They may do this, since Larry HATES MS!! Anything that can be a thorn in MS’ side, Larry likes!

    I think Oracle will take Solaris and tweak it to be the preferred platform for Oracle. Solaris has been one of Oracle’s favs for years. Only recently have they embraced Linux, since it offered a low cost point of entry. Solaris now wearing their brand with exceptional Enterprise tools, file systems, and monitors, makes it a good OS to expand for the Oracle and Peoplesoft horizons.

    Glassfish may die, and that is really a shame. It is a very good App Server and for the cost hard to beat. We still have JBoss, but Glassfish is much easier to use and administer.

    MySQL? It could turn into an Oracle lite, but I doubt it. Good thing is is forked now, since I think Oracle will stick a fork into it. It’s done. There is still the forked version and of course Postgres and Firebird. BTW, Firebird is often overlooked and it is a shame. It is a really good Open Source Database with long and thick roots. Think back to Aston-Tate for you old timers!

    Well these are my predictions for what they are worth. As far as JRuby, Jython, Groovy? No way Oracle kills these off. They will want EVERYTHING running on the Oracle JVM. I would not be surprised if these teams are not only kept on board but new ones hired. Not only is this extremely advantageous for Oracle from a business perspective, but remember what we said about Mr. Ellison’s love for MS? Do you really think he wants MS NET to have anything over his new baby that has been crucial and key to his now mature children (Oracle/Peoplesoft)? I don’t think so!