Yesterday Oracle stepped in to purchase Sun for $7.4bn after IBM failed to secure a deal just over two weeks ago. The fortnight wait has earned Sun a tasty half-billion Dollars over IBMs last best offer.
Oracle’s stake in Java has shot up in the last 15 months. They always had a fairly well received Java J2EE application server, one that had great ‘marketing’ sales, but perhaps not-so-great community acceptance or reputation. Aaaah, it was ok, to be fair. BEA was better though, so in January 2008 Oracle bought arguably the market-leading Java enterprise platform. And now with the proposed acquisition of Sun, Oracle basically owns Java.
This leaves IBM as the only other major enterprise Java vendor, and Java as a whole looking somewhat less ‘independent’ and less ‘community owned’. In the medium-term the effect will be positive:
- Two choices of vendor both with good, mature, Java platforms.
- Growth of open source Java platforms as a few more people look for an alternative to the market giants.
- Better out-of-the-box functionality, tools, and integration, starting to rival the benefits offered by Microsoft’s single-vendor .NET platform.
However, in the long-term, either IBM or a community initiative may develop a competitive platform to offer an alternative to the Oracle-centric Java offering. And it could be very well received. I see plenty of scripting/web languages out there that are popular because they do enough and do it quickly (from a development point of view). Java does too much, and as a consequence, development can be slow. An alternative could leap-frog Java’s attempts to resolve the complexity and bloatware issues of J2EE. With a strong commercial backing from the likes of IBM, it would be compelling for both the project-coders and off-the-shelf OSS product-developers.