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Sun's foes renew Java vows

Oracle announced on Wednesday that it will become the co-leader with Sun on the Enterprise Java Beans 3.0 specification and will provide database "persistence" software to Sun's Project GlassFish open-source application server effort.

Oracle will provide GlassFish with the reference implementation of the EJB object-relational database mapping technology, which will be based on Oracle's TopLink software, according to Oracle and Sun.

The move by Oracle, combined with IBM's 10-year renewal of its Java license, has Sun executives talking about a "rapprochement" among competing Java vendors.

"What you're seeing from IBM and Oracle are a recognition of a new era coming about," said Simon Phipps, chief technology evangelist at Sun from the JavaOne conference on Wednesday morning. "It signals an openness to partner over Java which I don't think we would have seen a couple of years ago."

Indeed, IBM has been vocal about its discontent with the Java Community Process and loudly requested via an open letter that Sun open source Java last year. When IBM earlier this year signed a partnership with Zend Technologies to make PHP applications work better with DB2, there was some speculation that IBM was looking to lessen its dependence on Java.

But clearly, IBM is heavily invested in the Java language and all its run-time platforms. Sun, IBM, Oracle, BEA Systems and other vendors all have a common enemy in Microsoft so they have a vested interest in making Java programming more accessible and fully standardized.

In the mobile arena as well, Java continues. NTT Docomo and Sun on Wednesday announced * Project (pronounced Star Project) to use Java Mobile Edition to build advanced wireless services.

But even as these IT industry titans stay the course with Java, the influence of grass-roots open-source development is on the rise. Evans Data on Wednesday published survey results which showed that about three quarters of Java programmers use open-source software.

Entrenched Java vendors, such as Sun and BEA, this week announced plans to back popular open-source products and, to a degree, the open-source development philosophy. In another example, Oracle on Wednesday said that it has proposed a project within the Eclipse Foundation for BPEL tools.

The rules for participating in the Java industry are shifting, with more influence from the open-source world. And what appears to be a lasting commitment to "coopetition" around Java: even Microsoft is sponsoring a track of sessions at JavaOne.