Oracle and Community Need Harmony

Is It Time for Oracle to Look at the Bigger Picture?

Jessica Thornsby

Stephen Colebourne argues that Oracle and the community need one another.

Stephen Colebourne has blogged about how the recent controversy could impact the symbiotic relationship between the owner of Java and the Community. He sees the owner of Java (Oracle) as investing the money, development time, marketing and energy to deliver an actively developed core and set of rules, which the community then keep interesting and productive with their own contributions. Colebourne argues that the core of Java is just a JVM, compiler, language and core libraries: “enough to get everyone started, but not that interesting in and of itself.” Therefore, Oracle’s investment becomes less valuable, if the community and ecosystem surrounding Java are destroyed. This is ironic, as Oracle seem to be actively taking major steps towards improving the platform. They are working with IBM and Apple to create the next version of JDK, and merging the HotSpot Virtual Machine and JRockit. But, what makes the language interesting, is the rich ecosystem of related projects and initiatives, and Oracle are not making the same effort to foster a positive relationship with the community.

He believes that in damaging the community with its lawsuits and actions within the JCP, Oracle are also damaging themselves, as they are creating distrust and unrest in the very community the platform relies upon. The JCP is acknowledged as being far from perfect – in fact, since 2005 the number of JSRs has been decreasing. However, the JCP has still been the recognised body for moderating Sun/Oracle’s contribution to the platform, and the JCP approving a vote with licensing clauses and Apache’s subsequent departure, have left the community shaken. In their handling of the tangled web of the JCP, the TCK for Harmony and the Java SE 7 votes, Oracle have acted in a way that pushes the community away and threatens to break down the symbiotic relationship.

Colebourne argues that it’s time for Oracle to look at the bigger picture, and factor what keeps the community happy and productive into their future business decisions. Although these actions may not always have an immediate benefit, Oracle could reap a greater business benefit in the future, if they keep the community on their side.

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