Oracle Still Shows Few Signs of Open Java Goals

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 22, 2010

In the wake of Oracle's lawsuit against Google regarding parts of the Java code used in the Android OS, many people have concluded that the soundbytes Oracle officials delivered regarding friendliness toward open source while the company pursued Sun Microsystems were just that: soundbytes. In particular, there are huge questions about what level of openness Oracle will retain with regard to Java, which it always said was the brass ring in the Sun Microsystems acquisition. At the JavaOne show, Oracle officials made their plans for Java clear--or at least largely clear. What still isn't clear is Oracle's stance toward openness with Java.

Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of Oracle product development discussed Java at JavaOne. He made clear that Oracle has plans for Java across servers, desktop systems and mobile devices. Through the new Project Jigsaw initiative, there will be new modularity built into the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). notes several other points from Kurian: 

"Kurian added that the roadmap for Java development includes an effort to enhance developer productivity. Oracle's Project Coin which is now under development, will provide improved type inferences for instance creation as well as other innovations that are aimed at improving developer productivity with more concise code. Project Lambda on the other hand will bring closures to the Java language. Kurian noted that Lambda will provide a more concise replacement for inner classes and it will support automatically parallel operations on collections."

Many of Kurian's points made clear that Oracle will encourage lots of development around Java, but not many of them made clear that Oracle will retain the level of openness that Sun Microsystems always had toward Java. Dana Blankenhorn seems to be correct that what Oracle really wants is control of the customer, in the same way that Microsoft and HP have wanted that over the years:

"What’s wrong with [Oracle's strategy]? It’s the strategy of a consolidating, slowing, failing industry. It’s the process that gave us Coke and Pepsi, Budweiser and Miller, WalMart and Target. It’s a natural business process, but it’s not what technology should be about. Technology should be about rapid growth, about carving grand new niches that pour out opportunity in every direction."

I agree with the points that Blankenhorn makes, except that Oracle's attitude correlates with "failing." Microsoft built a huge pile of money pursuing goals that weren't open, and boxing out competitors who were open. But Blankenhorn is correct that Oracle's general business stance raises questions about its attitude toward opportunity creation. 

With regard to Java, there remain few signs that Oracle will walk down any type of truly open path. The company needs to assure the development community that Java won't become a card the company plays in an attempt to control customers.