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Oracle duo pitch for Java's lifeblood

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Execs from "the combined Sun and Oracle" tag-teamed at this year's EclipseCon to talk about the future of Java in a turn that was full of team spirit, but few details on Oracle's plans.

Longtime Oracle face Steve Harris, senior vice president of the giant's application server group, was joined by the ex-vice president of Sun Microsystems client software turned vice president of Oracle's client software development group Jeet Kaul, for some geeky banter, some traditional tech-show T-shirt lobbing, and what amounted to hints about how "the power of the Java community will be strengthened" under the stewardship of Big O.

"Java is certainly the crown jewels of this acquisition," Harris told the crowd in Santa Clara, California. "It brings together a tremendous base of developers and a tremendous community, and it's incredibly important to our business."

"Developers are the lifeblood of Java," Kaul added - an echo of the old Sun. "Nine million developers are using Java, and we want to grow that community. And how do you grow that community? We have to make sure that Java is available in as many places as possible ... and we want it to be a competitive platform."

Kaul seemed to be setting expectations for a shifting Java landscape when he added: "We also want to adapt to change. That's an important part of the exercise, being able to widen a sustainable platform drives a whole lot of business. We need to be flexible to make changes."

Harris reminded the crowd that "a lot of Java's evolution was driven with the strong guiding hand of Sun".

Oracle completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January of this year, in a deal valued at more than $7bn. The giant has since been implementing what Harris called its "Hundred Day Plan" to integrate Sun's assets - something he said is "nearing completion".

Oracle is also developing a roadmap for the future of Sun's open-source application server Glassfish, Harris said. During the acquisition, Oracle promised to continue supporting Sun's server, but primarily as a "departmental solution." Oracle's WebLogic Server would continue to be marketed as the company's enterprise solution.

Details of that roadmap would be available in the next few days, he said, including the timing of the 3.1 release, "which will be to [Java] EE 6 what the 2.1 release was to [Java] EE 5," addressing quality assurance, clustering and high availability.

Oracle is also starting to "roll out discussions with the community" on where Java EE goes next. Oracle believes there needs to be greater awareness of modularity in the JDK to help in extensibility, eliminate some of the classpath problems and to keep the Java platform moving forward.

Modularity will be a big part of Java going forward, Harris said. Both Glassfish and Eclipse are built on the OSGi specification, which provides a common model for writing and deploying applications to local or remote computers in modularized form.

Oracle's plan is for OSGi modules and Java modules to co-exist, with no need to choose between them, he said. Oracle is working with the OSGi group to develop "a single way for IDEs, for tooling, for integration, and so on, to address and deal with modular systems in JDK proper".

"The two big things we plan to do right now at Oracle?" Kaul said. "Number one is ship JDK 7 as fast as we can." The second thing is to bring the Sun and Oracle VMs together. He also emphasized the importance of mobile Java in a world awash in Java phones and a host of Java-enabled consumer devices.

The presentation ended with a shout out to open source communities beyond the Java community, which Harris said "we need to work more closely with, embrace, and engage moving forward ... We can make Java continue to be the platform of the future by working together, and we're committed to making that happen."

There was a plea from Kaul for community feedback too. "Come in and engage with us... We need you to push us... We want to bottle that kind of industry excitement that was there at the beginning of Java. We want to bring all of that feeling back again," he said. ®

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