Thoughts on JavaOne 2008 (mostly good, but lots of confusing messages from Sun)

JavaOne 2008 was pretty good, but that had little to do with Sun themselves.

I have been to nearly every JavaOne event its gone through some ups and downs. In the last two years it seems like JavaOne is meaningful again. Contrary to what many people think Java is thriving more than I would have expected. The biggest distraction is Sun themselves who continue to mix messages and project relevance with marketing and strategic confusion.

On the positive side we met a lot of developers who are still excited about Java and there were many new companies on the show floor that I hadn't seen in the past.

Java is still the language of choice in the enterprise. Even with the rise of LAMP Java remains important and makes up huge swaths of the IT landscape in major enterprises--at least those who are not .NET. Even open source Java applications on Windows are popular. As an example, a full 50% of JBoss deployments are on Windows.

And yet, the last 2-3 years the messages I have taken from Sun can be summed up as "Someday, you will have a mobile device and it will run Java. And it will be cool." FX is kinda cool, but when you have 15,000 enterprise geeks at an event I would think they would lead with something cooler. Cote mentioned they did some neat things with ZFS the 2nd day, but all my friends avoided the keynotes after the first one was lame (minus Neil Young.)

Regarding Sun's open source initiatives. I cruised through the software projects and spoke to a number of the Sun people (side note--there were some truly stellar people doing demos and explaining things) about open source and strategy and most didn't get it. Add in the MySQL confusion and it's clear that they don't have everything sorted.

There are also a number of Sun software products that ARE BUILT ON OPEN SOURCE, but NOT OPEN SOURCE. One example of this is JCAPs, which is the sad remnant of the $387m SeeBeyond acquisition. Sun ported the JCAPs connectors to Open ESB, built the whole thing into NetBeans and closed sourced the product. This is not just weird, its also stupid and disingenuous.

Finally, where is the hardware? I know this is JavaOne but a very large percentage of Sun's revenue comes from hardware and where else can you actually touch and see Sun hardware? They could have easily brought in machines for people to check out and talk about why running Java apps on Sun boxes is better or whatever. A major missed opportunity in my opinion.

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