I have little if any insider insight into Oracle’s plans for Java once the Sun acquisition goes through, which has looked increasingly likely since the database and applications giant stopped acting tough and started talking to the EU.
Today though I read a post by Clive Birnie that made me think – If In Doubt Act Like a Receiver. For those unfamiliar with British terminology, calling in the receivers essentially means going bankrupt – they manage insolvency. Clive has been through the process. He says:
The Receiver doesn’t mess about.
He gets on with his job. No sentiment. No procrastination. No “well Janis has been with us a long time…” or “we need to get this low margin delivery out on time they are a long standing customer”. It is black and white to The Receiver. He deals in quantum and maths.
The clue is in the name. He does not come to give but to receive.
In a time of crisis, turnaround and survival it is worth remembering his role and doing his work before he has to come and do it for you.
Every piece of resource that is not focused 100% on turning inventory and debtors into cash is resource you don’t need in a crisis. Harsh but true.
OK. He has the advantage that all contracts are broken so he has more freedom of movement than you but my point is the principle. Stop giving. Stop spending. Focus on generating and receiving cash.
Everything on your premises is inventory. Anything not in current use can be sold. Even things that are in use can be sold.
I once said, paraphrasing Churchill, that “the Java Community Process is not the the worst form of governance except all the other ones that have been tried.”
Increasingly I believe I was wrong. You see- managing Java has been debilitating for Sun Microsystems. Too much of the company’s precious resources have been spent on managing Java, for too little benefit. I don’t want to pile on just as a new chapter is about to begin, but I can’t help thinking Oracle might well be good for Java. It will have no sentimentality about the community and technology. It won’t have people on the team that made a fortune, and a powerful role within Sun, on the back of Java.
Earlier this year at JavaOne Sun ran a funny video about the history of Java – in one particularly memorable scene it had James Gosling come into Scott McNealy’s office asking for funding for Oak, and leaving with two huge bags full of cash. Well Java was the gift that kept on taking. When Sun couldn’t build enough Solaris servers to meet demand throwing money at Java looked like a good investment. When Linux started beating Solaris up, not so much. Once again I want to stress that I don’t believe Java was a bad thing for Sun, but it was more all encompassing than it should have been.
But clear, cold eyes are coming. Sharks aren’t sentimental. and Oracle definitely can’t stop moving…
Its even possible, though I seriously doubt it, that Oracle will spin Java out. I think its far more likely Oracle will accelerate a trend that began far too late at Sun- that is, converging implementation and specification. Historically Sun was among the last enterprise Java suppliers to support the latest versions of its own specs. I expect Oracle to be the first among equals.
The recent announcement of the Gemini Project, an Oracle SpringSource initiative under the auspices of the Eclipse Runtime project, is a pointer to a possible future. Oracle supporting OSGi is not new. Working directly with SpringSource on the other hand, is. What is OSGi and why do we need a new reference implementation? The answer is the delivery of a Stackless Stack, a more modular Java, and the delivery of code, rather than specs.
All that said, Oracle will have an awful lot of runtimes to manage and support. From its own J2EE Application Server to WebLogic, to Gemini and Sun’s Glassfish (and other legacy bits and pieces). Glassfish is a real wildcard, because its an excellent piece of code – implemented from the ground up with modern modular Java in mind, it is fast and embeddable. Sun was creating real channel momentum before the Oracle deal was announced. Oracle could play Glassfish as its lead Java platform for ISVs and VARs. From an antitrust perspective, the strange thing about the EU scrutiny of MySQL, is that Oracle’s multibillion dollar WebLogic business had more to immediately fear from Glassfish than Oracle database did from MySQL. Its almost like Larry persuaded Monty to lead the EU on a goose chase.
But putting Java on a sound commercial footing is surely going to be one of the first jobs Oracle takes on. I said earlier this year, “you can rest assured JavaOne will be a very different event.” The same can surely be said for the Java ecosystem at large.
While commentators have been focusing on MySQL and financial losses at Sun, if I was Oracle I’d be getting a little antsy about Java and the mobile space. Apple and Google are going from strength to strength, Java not so much.
I don’t have the answers, but it is my suspicion that 2010 could actually be a good year for Java. Why shouldn’t the renaissance be under new ownership? I would advise Java community members to stay put. Doubly so for enterprise customers- there are no immediate risk factors, other than the ongoing contractual wrangling single vendor dominance creates. Java is in surprisingly rude health, especially given the health of its Steward.
Is there a case for small governance in Java? Absolutely. I expect Oracle to make it, and drive it through.
Oracle is a client. Sun, IBM and SAP are as well. I totally stole the photo above from an Oracle blog, and its clearly copyright CNet. If they contact me I will of course remove it.