Why Java could thrive at Oracle

A new report from IDC suggests that Java has found itself a better home with Oracle. That's good news for developers and ISVs.

Dave Rosenberg Co-founder, MuleSource
Dave Rosenberg has more than 15 years of technology and marketing experience that spans from Bell Labs to startup IPOs to open-source and cloud software companies. He is CEO and founder of Nodeable, co-founder of MuleSoft, and managing director for Hardy Way. He is an adviser to DataStax, IT Database, and Puppet Labs.
Dave Rosenberg
2 min read

When Oracle announced its intention to acquire Sun Microsystems nearly one year ago, one of the prime areas of consternation for developers was what would happen to the Java programming language.

Perhaps putting some of those fears to rest, a new report from IDC (subscription required) suggests that Java can thrive more under Oracle than it did at Sun itself.

In making the strategic commitment to Java in its next-generation Fusion applications, Oracle says on its Web site that the future success of Java is "fundamental to the success of Oracle as a vendor of anything other than databases."

From IDC's white paper:

IDC believes that Oracle's new strategic initiatives in middleware and applications are more dependent on the viability of Java than was Sun Microsystems' strategy prior to the acquisition, which primarily leveraged Java for mindshare and goodwill in the hope of selling more servers and storage. Other important application and integration platform vendors also are heavily invested in Java.

In many ways, Oracle gets to wipe the slate clean from past relations between Sun and Java developers, which have ranged from highly beneficial to moderately terrible due to legal and participatory issues. Despite Oracle's reputation for scorching the earth around their competitors, the company recognizes how important developers are to continued success.

The overriding impression from Oracle relating to Java technologies is that Oracle values good relations with the Java community and views the broad Java ecosystem as a key asset in its acquisition of Sun.

Thus, Oracle seems to subscribe to the overall principle of keeping most key acquired technologies alive, or at least nominally alive, promising some level of investment, and evolution for the time being, while bringing the most innovative features to its anointed strategic alternatives and offering a strong portfolio of support services around them no matter their fate.

While there is no reason for Oracle to upset the Java community at this point, I highly doubt the company will continue with certain projects that are either direct open-source competition, or that require too much additional effort to be worth it for Oracle to continue.

This is a safe route for Oracle to take, but it can also be difficult to adhere to with the passage of time. Many competing concerns are at risk of overwhelming Oracle's R&D agenda and attention, and while its approach to engage the community is an appropriate goodwill gesture in support of greater openness, Oracle needs to carefully monitor potentially accelerating migration to open-source alternatives and the attendant loss of control in certain accounts.

This story is far from over, but it's good to hear reputable analysis suggest that everything will work out for Java. Realistically, there is no reason for Oracle to rock the boat (no yachting pun intended) and considering the vast number of developers and applications that rely on Java, it's definitely good to hear that all that hard work won't go to waste.