Oracle’s Java Opportunity

January 26, 2010

by Craig Muzilla, Vice President, Middleware

With the EU’s approval of Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, Oracle is acquiring a major hardware and software player, and perhaps most significantly, they are now taking stewardship of the Java platform. As Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison said shortly after the acquisition announcement in April of last year, Java is “the single most important software asset we have ever acquired.”

We agree with Mr. Ellison’s statement; Java is one of the most important technologies developed and adopted during the past twenty years. It has fostered significant innovation throughout the IT industry and has enabled businesses and governments to operate with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Java is larger than any single company; we are all part of Java, customers and vendors alike. Now, that Oracle has become a more significant guardian of Java, they have an opportunity to foster and expand the principles that made Java the successful platform that it is today. Oracle has an opportunity to continue to make Java stronger and viable by making the process more open and the technology more accessible.

Red Hat has played a leadership role in the Java Community Process for many years and we support making the Java process open and inclusive for all. We were one of the first companies to applaud and support Sun when they created an open source license of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) with the introduction of OpenJDK. Most recently, we led two critical specifications that were adopted as part of Java EE 6. Our goal is to make Java easier to use, more appealing to developers and beneficial to all organizations building and using software.

Over the last several years many Java Community Process (JCP) members were concerned that the future of Java was in jeopardy because the community process, under the stewardship of Sun, was not open enough. Despite the early success of the JCP, many members thought that Sun was beginning to stifle the potential of Java in order to serve its own commercial interests. Oracle along with the support of other IT vendors including Red Hat, recommended that Sun should transform the JCP into a more open and inclusive governing body, thereby securing the future and viability of Java. To that end, many recommendations were submitted to the JCP by Oracle and others. For example, Oracle submitted a public motion to the JCP Executive Committee to make changes to JCP governance. Here is what Oracle said:“It is the sense of the [JCP] Executive Committee that the JCP become an open, independent vendor-neutral Standards Organization where all members participate on a level playing field….”

In effect, Oracle was among several leaders asking Sun to make Java and the Java process more open and less prone to self-serving actions by a single vendor. Red Hat supported Oracle’s initiative to make Java inclusive and open then, and we encourage Oracle to fulfill its original proposal now. We believe that an open, independent JCP is critical for the future success of Java.

Now as the Java platform changes hands we have high hopes that Oracle will not only serve as a faithful steward of this important technology, but will also be a positive force in driving the future of Java in collaboration with the members of the JCP. Additionally, Oracle has an opportunity to grow customer and vendor adoption of Java, not by imposing undue licensing requirements that might be contrary to the principles of Java accessibility, but by making the process more open and the technology more accessible. It is no surprise that at Red Hat, one of the last truly home grown open source providers in the marketplace, open standards and an inclusive, collaborative process are one of our highest priorities.

To that end, we encourage Oracle to fulfill its opportunity to keep Java and the Java development process open, inclusive, and easily accessible to all. We encourage Oracle to ensure that Java remains open so that customers can continue to benefit from the hallmarks of a technology standard. We encourage Oracle to make sure that the Java development process is inclusive to all vendors and customers so Java can leverage ideas from the widest set of stakeholders which will benefit all equally. We encourage Oracle to fulfill their original proposal and establish an independent governance process for the JCP. And, finally, we encourage Oracle to continue the tradition of making the technology easily accessible, to vendors and customers alike, to secure its broad adoption and continued strength in the market.

To Oracle we say; congratulations on the impending close of the deal and welcome to the stewardship of “the single most important software asset” you’ve ever acquired. We look forward to working with you in your new role as you use this position to make real, positive industry change for the Java platform.

Back to top