Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oracle + Sun : A Java Perspective

Smarter people than I have written about this, but having worked at several of the major players here (a summer at Oracle proper, 12 months at BEA working on WebLogic Server, 2 years working at M7, which got bought by BEA, which got bought by Oracle), I figured I'd pipe in my $0.02.

My #1 concern here is that Larry is going to attempt to use everything in the IP arsenal that he's just acquired to screw IBM. He's done it before, he'll probably continue to do it. Considering the amount of investment that IBM has made into the Java ecosystem (at least as much as BEA, particularly when you consider Eclipse), and the amount of hostility between Oracle and IBM, this wouldn't surprise me one whit. Towards, that end, here's what I'd like to see clarification on:

  • Eclipse/SWT. For too long Sun's ridiculous love-fest with NetBeans and Swing has blocked any reasonable approach towards dealing with Eclipse and SWT. The worry that I have here is that since Eclipse == IBM in many people's minds, and both JDeveloper and NetBeans are now under the same company umbrella, Oracle may decide to let commercial considerations (sticking it to IBM) and staff considerations (keeping Sun developers who have a thing for NetBeans, plus everybody internally who's committed to JDeveloper) override ecosystem considerations (we all like Eclipse way more than NetBeans or JDeveloper). My request: please properly support SWT. Not to the exclusion of Swing, but don't fight against it.
  • OSGi. OSGi is probably tainted by Sun as being an Eclipse-technology, and therefore hurting NetBeans and helping IBM or some similar ridiculousness. Support it, please, and kill off anything whose sole raison d'etre is to replace it with something lamer. Modularizing the JRE is one thing, providing something completely useless except to replace OSGi is something altogether different.
  • Open Java Implementations. Stephen Colebourne has been talking about this at length, and blogged about the handover. Please don't be such jerks on the JCP.
  • Open Source Projects. Whither Glassfish and Metro and all the rest of it? They compete with existing BEA/Oracle assets, but are extremely valuable in making the ecosystem valuable enough to allow Oracle to extract value from their proprietary assets.
  • API Neutrality. One thing Sun has been good at, because they've never had any world-beating middleware or application infrastructure technologies, is helping to craft APIs that are by and large vendor neutral (such as JDBC and JMS). Oracle, however, doesn't. Is Oracle going to follow a path like Microsoft has with the .Net APIs, where there's enhanced support for whatever Microsoft is shilling and second-class support for everything else (ADO.Net anyone?), or is it going to realize that supporting the ecosystem means vendor neutrality as much as possible? Sun had no choice as all their app infrastructure is second-rate at best, but Oracle has a choice.
  • The Whole JCP Itself. What's going to happen to it? How is Oracle going to behave in general? Will we see projects falling out from under the JCP umbrella going forward?
  • ZFS [1]. ZFS rocks. Massively. But Oracle's been working on Btrfs in part because Sun refuses to allow ZFS to be licensed in such a way that it can be included in the Linux kernel. Given Oracle's investment in Linux, we can has ZFS in Linux?

Mostly, I think we still have yet to see whether Oracle is going to behave like the BEA side, or the Oracle side: is Oracle going to help build the ecosystem, or is it going to use its new IP assets for proprietary advantage against IBM and Microsoft? I hope it's the former, but only time will tell.


[1]: Yes, it's not Java. But really, I can has? Plz?
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