Will Sun Open-Source Java?
May 5, 2006 Leave a comment
An age old question, will Sun Open Source Java? With a new CEO in Jonathan Scwhartz and the JavaOne Conference around the corner, the topic is getting quite a bit of attention at the moment. Keep in mind though, to Sun, “Open Sourcing” Java would almost certainly mean CDDL and not GPL. With Scwhartz being on of the proponents of Open Sourcing Solaris, the chances for Java are probably greater than before, but there are still clearly some major debates going on within the company. Will the move benefit SUNW and the stockholders? With rumors of up to 30% layoffs, does the new CEO have more pressing issues on his plate? At a company the size of Sun, 10% of the workers are probably superfluous…but losing 30% would be devastating. He's not in an enviable position, that's for sure.
Back to Java for a moment, one of the major gripes has always been the redistribution verbiage. Open Source or not, that really has to change. One of the common cons I see for potentially Open Sourcing Java is that it will surely cause forks and confusion. There are already a bunch of forks around, and I don't see a lot of confusion there. So, will Sun reverse its long time thinking on the topic and go Open? If they do, will companies like IBM (who has a massive middleware investment in the language) jump in and participate with Sun?
In the bigger picture, will Jonathan be able to turn around a company that contributes a lot to both Open Source and the computing world in general (NFS, much of XML, Java and more) but hasn't turned an annual profit in 5 years? No easy task. As usual, there is some irony here. For some of the major misjudgments Scott made in the past (network computing as the major example) he seems to have been pushed out now by wall street for the products not scaling vertically at a time when most people are scaling horizontally (that is, most companies are not buying huge high end machines, but scaling out with many cheaper ones). The lower end Sun product offering is actually looking very good right now. Odd.
Sun, SUNW, Java, Open Source