Is Java as we know it doomed?

Oracle-Sun deal raises questions about future control of the open-source technology

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Also optimistic is Matt Asay, vice president of development at Alfresco Software Inc., a vendor of open-source enterprise content management tools. Asay predicted that Oracle will be good for Java. "In some ways, it might even be better than Sun," he said. That's because Sun has "never been willing to fully let go of the reins," Asay noted. "Oracle doesn't need to monetize it directly. It just wants to make sure that Java flourishes."

Bill Roth, vice president of product management at GSI Commerce and a former Sun and BEA employee who left BEA after Oracle acquired the company last year, was not optimistic about Java's fate.

"I believe that this acquisition means the death of Java," Roth said, predicting that in-fighting "between IBM and Oracle will lead to the end of 'write once, run anywhere'" for Java applications. "There will inevitably be some disagreement between the owner of Java, Oracle, and IBM, [which] has invested billions in the technology," he said. "I cannot imagine that IBM would blithely let Oracle determine the future of a technology so embedded in its software stack without a fight. IBM's only recourse will be to fork the code."

A main benefactor of Oracle buying Sun is likely to be Microsoft Corp., according to Tibco's Ranadive. Companies that have used a mixture of Java and Microsoft's .Net software might opt for the latter technology now, with questions arising over whether Oracle will keep Java open, he said.

Oracle also might de-emphasize Sun's JavaFX rich media platform, McAllister said. If so, that could help both Microsoft and Adobe Systems Inc., which offer the competing Silverlight and Flash/Flex technologies. But thus far, neither Silverlight nor JavaFX has made huge inroads vs. the Adobe tools among developers.

This story, "Is Java as we know it doomed?" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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