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Scripting and services top Sun software chief's list

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Interview Support for scripting languages in Java, squeezing revenue from a set of long-promised - but strangely MIA - services, and more open source initiatives are among top priorities for Sun Microsystems' newly appointed software chief.

Rich Green, recently named executive vice president of software following a two-year hiatus from Sun, told The Register he sees an emerging crop of dynamic languages as peers - not competitors - to Java, and that Sun should be working "very hard to ensure interoperability."

Green's comments come as the community debates Java's role in the face of newer, flexible scripting languages like PHP, Perl and Ruby. Another hot topic is the desirability of "light" Java, used as part of the Ajax stack, compared to "heavy" enterprise Java, which is notoriously complicated for developers to use. Sometimes these debates take the shape of a flame war.

One possible option could be to host scripting languages on Java or to make them peers as runtime environments, Green said. "We welcome and want to work with and foster creation of these new platforms... this is not a competition."

Also in Green's sights are services. Sun has talked a great deal about making money from services around its software instead of charging licensing fees, however these highly anticipated offerings have yet to either be defined or launched.

Green said Sun has the opportunity to deliver support, training, maintenance and upgrades. "The mechanics to make that available to a broad audience are on my top four list of things to focus on," Green said. Services are "smack dab in the middle of my field."

You can also expect a continuation of Sun's strategy of open sourcing its software. The big question, though, is - does Sun let Java go? Developers in enterprise shops at least, have made it clear to The Register that they are unwilling to see Java open sourced in case bad-quality code is distributed, or components that their business relies on stop receiving support from the community.

Green would not be drawn on whether Sun plans to open source Java, but called the Java ecosystem "the most sophisticated collection of developers, evaluators and specifiers in the industry" - a fact, he said, that would reduce the chances of "bad stuff" happening.

Green added he is in "two minds" on open sourcing Java and hinted there could be more news at next week's JavaOne in San Francisco, California.

Long-term, Green said he's keen to focus on the concept of self-healing and autonomic computing across "hundreds of geographically distributed systems". Sun has been pitching its N1 strategy, but Green said Sun had to offer a lot more. "It may be in the future, Solaris simply knows how to do something... you don't need something to happen to make it act. We own the platforms and the technology to make this happen at a native and a metal level," Green said. ®

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