Oracle and IBM find solidarity in Java

Executives from both companies recognize their mutual Java interests and pledge to do what's best for the platform

Oracle and IBM officials took the stage together Wednesday to champion Java and stress that their own interests mandate continued vitality of the platform.

Hailing a Java "renaissance," Mark Reinhold, chief architect for the Java platform group at Oracle, and IBM Distinguished Engineer John Duimovich, who is the company's Java CTO, focused on where Java is headed, citing improvements planned for the upcoming Java 7 and 8 releases and beyond. Appearing at the EclipseCon 2011 conference in Santa Clara, Calif., they also noted the new alliance between the two companies, in which IBM joined the OpenJDK open source Java project last October. Duimovich, though, stressed the two companies still would compete "aggressively." Reinhold also discussed a potential long-term unification of the Java SE (Standard Edition) and ME (Micro Edition) platforms; an Oracle representative later clarified that there is potential for such an endeavor but no formal announcement.

[ Oracle's and IBM's emphasis on self-interest and Java echo comments made by Java founder Jim Gosling last week at another technical conference when he spoke of Oracle's need to properly maintain Java. | Keep up with the latest Java developments with InfoWorld's JavaWorld Enterprise Java newsletter. ]

Until recently, Java technology advancements had been held at bay because of a logjam in the Java Community Process, for formally amending Java platforms, and the demise of Sun Microsystems, Reinhold said. "Happily, Oracle acquired Sun and was able to break that logjam. We're now moving things forward again."

"Oracle's number 1 priority for Java is to keep it No. 1," Reinhold said, emphasizing that many of the company's products are written in Java. IBM, also with a lot of products dependent on Java, has years of experience in Java runtimes and believes it can improve Java, Duimovich said. "We want to make sure Java remains No. 1."

IBM will focus on contributing class libraries and seeks improved internationalization for Java. Duimovich acknowledged IBM's prior work on the open source Apache Harmony Java implementation and continued support of customers with the Harmony code.

Harmony has been the subject of years of controversy, with Sun and then Oracle unable to reach agreement with the Apache Software Foundation about terms of a technology compatibility kit for Harmony to verify its compliance with Java standards. Reinhold declined to comment on Wednesday when asked if there would be any break forthcoming in that stalemate.

Reinhold reiterated plans for the upcoming Java 7 and 8 platforms, and he noted ambitions beyond these releases. Due in July, Java Development Kit 7, a component of the Java 7 platform, will focus on small language improvements to boost productivity via Project Coin. Version 7 also features dynamic language capabilities, new I/O APIs, and an asynchronous API.

Java 8, planned for late 2012, is set to offer a more modular approach to Java, including the ability to work with OSGi, although OSGi would be the modular technology used within Java 8. "I don't think [OSGi is] a very good fit for Java developers," Reinhold said. For Java 9 and possibly later releases, Oracle is pondering accommodations for multicore processors, NUMA, multitenancy, and hypervisor integration.

Also at EclipseCon on Wednesday, Oracle's Markus Hirt, an architect, team lead, and engineering manager for the JRockit Mission Control team, updated attendees on the company's HotRockit project for Java Virtual Machine convergence. The project aims to converge the HotSpot Java Virtual Machine Oracle acquired when it bought Sun and the JRockit VM Oracle took charge of when it bought BEA Systems. HotRockit, or whatever the merged VM is eventually called, will feature JRockit's flight recorder, for recording events, and its deterministic garbage collection. JRockit will not be maintained as a separate product once the merger is complete, Hirt said. Some of the VM effort will make its way into the OpenJDK project.

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