Will Oracle Help Java Regain its Status?

What lies ahead for Java under Oracle’s control? Will the software giant help Java regain its lost status as the development darling of the cool kids? Or will it seek to monetize Java by incorporating the language, which debuted in 1995, into a revenue stream of Oracle middleware? Oracle, currently tweaking its plans for the future of Java, has been making some noise that it wants to reinvigorate the once-hot language and keep it open. Some of Oracle’s plans are detailed in a webcast featuring Jeet Kaul, Oracle VP of Java Development. Kaul notes that the foundation of Java’s greatness lies in the nine million developers who use Java — and that Oracle is committed to keeping those people happy. “HotSpot and JRockit will continue to be the strategic JVMs,” he says, adding that Oracle will roll out Java 7 SE in 2010. New features of Java 7 will include increased developer productivity, modularization, and support for more than 200 languages, says Kaul. Java 7 will, of course, be bigger than its predecessor — so the bloat factor may turn off some developers, especially the cool kids who want to create flashy websites and front-ends. Java’s legacy of complexity is certainly an issue, says Michael Cote, an analyst with RedMonk, a consulting firm specializing in open source technology.

Still Reliable After All These Years

“Starting with JBoss, then Spring, and now the componentization efforts (OSGi and the Java modularity effort) the Java world has been trying to fight ‘bloat’ for a long time,” says Cote. “People I talk with still rely on Java for much of the heavy lifting out there.” Java’s role of heavy-lifter is not going to vanish, says Mike Rozlog, a developer with Embarcadero Technologies, a creator of application tools. “Java has been the COBOL of the business world for the past 15 years,” says Rozlog. “That will not change.” If anything, Java developers and the business world as a whole can expect strong support from Oracle, IDC predicts in a recent update, “Oracle Sips Its Java — Examining Oracle’s RoadMap for Sun’s Development Tools and Middleware Products.” The update notes that Oracle has made the strategic commitment to anchor the architecture of its next-generation packaged applications around Oracle Fusion Middleware, its Java-based application and integration platform middleware. “The success of Java is fundamental to the success of Oracle,” says Al Hilwa, the principal author of the update and IDC’s program director of applications development software. Hilwa believes that Oracle’s new strategic initiatives in middleware and applications are more dependent on the viability of Java than was Sun’s, which primarily leveraged Java for mindshare and goodwill in the hope of selling more servers and storage. “My impression 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,” Hilwa says. He thinks Oracle will keep alive or at least nominally alive most of the technologies it acquired.

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