IBM joining OpenJDK – repeat after me “pragmatic”, “pragmatic”, “pragmatic” October 12, 2010
Posted by Sacha in English, IT.
Tags: Harmony, IBM, Java, linkedin, OpenJDK, ORCL
Things have started to move quickly in Java-land. Yesterday, IBM announced they would partner with ORCL on Java and participate in the OpenJDK project. They also said that in doing so they would shift their Apache Harmony resources towards OpenJDK.
Note: I can insure you that the “pragmatic” word is going to be used and abused in the next few weeks when talking about Java…
From a market standpoint, ORCL played hard-balls and won.
One of the only possibilities for a Java fork to be successful was for IBM to co-lead it. With this announcement, the “pragmatic” view wins. I imagine IBM was able to negotiate and obtain from ORCL a proprietary license on the OpenJDK codebase. I also hope they were able to negotiate substantial *and specific* changes in how the JCP will work in the future.
For IBM, no drama, no legal fees, no long lawsuit, just business as usual. For ORCL, a first victory in how they intend to treat the Java community. Oh, and for the other players (VMW, RHT, SAP, HP, etc.) it probably means they will have to shut-up and follow IBM “leadership” (with one possible caveat explained below).
This is really a blast against the Java community. The JSPA dictates that companies leading a JSR have to provide a license to anybody requesting it. That is the very foundation of the JCP: to create a market place where all competitors are on an equal-playing-field. Yet, in that case, SUN refused to grant such a license, providing an interpretation of the JSPA that would make laugh a 5 years old kid. Everybody else thought this interpretation was vastly nuts. Fast-forward a few months and this becomes ORCL’s interpretation.
This probably also means the Apache Harmony project just died (Yes, resources allocation and life and death of a project are indeed topics that should be discussed on a DEV mailing-list… don’t hide behind your finger.)
How can the Java community trust a leader which doesn’t stand by its own constitution?
So, “pragmatically”, this news announces the end of a long-standing deadlock in the Java community: we can all hope the JCP will be rejuvenated on top of the JSPA and Harmony dead bodies, that new SE JSRs will be initiated, that ORCL will start investing more resources in new JSRs, etc. That’s the best case scenario.
Yet, I have a hard time seeing how a new “JCP” can work if any JSR lead can, at any point in time, refuse to grant a license on that JSR to a competitor… What if ORCL was to refuse to grant RHT of VMW a Java EE license?
The only free electron that could change the situation is GOOG – and that electron is pretty excited given their lawsuit with ORCL.
Until now, nobody really leveraged that JSPA issue aggressively. Yet, GOOG could decide to sue ORCL for refusing to give the ASF an appropriate Java SE license (or help the ASF sue ORCL). I see this as the only remaining open item that could change the game. And if this doesn’t happen, ORCL will have won by KO.
Oh and obviously, it will be interesting to see what the JCP EC members will vote on the new JSRs for Java SE 7 and 8 (be ready to count the number of times the “pragmatic” word will be used in the comments section). My bet is that unless GOOG sues ORCL, the JCP EC will just “pragmatically” accept those new JSRs and send some flowers to the Apache Harmony project.
Unless GOOG initiates a lawsuit against ORCL over the JSPA, I think this is game-over. ORCL essentially tells the Java ecosystem that the good old JCP is dead, that they are willing to rejuvenate it but not at the expense of loosing control on the only FOSS JVM out there, that is the price to pay. While that might seem fair, the problem is that this is a unilateral decision done at the expense of a legal agreement signed by many.
Next time you shake Larry’s hand and he tells you “we have a deal”, don’t get too excited…