JAX London 2014: A retrospective

Speculation Surrounds GlassFish, Java, NetBeans and MySQL Following Oracle Acquisition

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Last week, JAXenter reported that the European Commission has finally given Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems the green light, amongst speculation that the software giant was planning to cut 13,800 jobs following the acquisition.

Chief Executive of Oracle, Larry Ellison has previously claimed that the European Commission’s lengthy investigation has given rival companies time to lure customers away from the troubled Silicon Valley vendor. Larry Ellison has also previously stated that Sun Microsystems was losing around $100 million for every month the European regulators delayed the acquisition, through rivals migrating to other companies.

In October, there was more bad news, as Sun warned that it planned to cut up to 3,000 jobs as it waited for European approval. “The longer this takes, the more money Sun is going to lose, and that’s not good for anybody. We want to get this done to save as many jobs as possible,” said Ellison, back in September. However, there are rumours that an internal Sun memo has been sent, quashing these claims that major job cuts are on the horizon, and reassuring Sun employees that Oracle will “rely heavily” on the skills of Sun’s existing workforce.

But, the future of Sun employees isn’t the only question currently flying around the IT world following the news that the EU would allow the merger to go ahead.

Rod Johnson, founder of SpringSource, general manager of VMware’s SpringSource unit, and JCP member, has tried to quell some concerns regarding the future of Java.. “It’s not in the business interest of Oracle to do anything that would damage the Java ecosystem,” he said argument. It seems logical: Oracle has an extensive portfolio of Java applications and middleware. Sabotaging the programming language would hurt Oracle as much as it’d hurt its competitors.

However, Johnson warned that there could be heavy tolls for companies who depend on Java. This isn’t an entirely new concept: Sun charged Java vendors to use its Java test suite; the only way for certifying that a new product was Java-compliant; it also charged a fee for embedding the Java Virtual Machine in a product. But, Johnson is concerned those tolls could be about to rocket: “Oracle’s practice is to increase prices as much as the traffic will bear, then increase them a little more.”

He also predicted the demise of Sun’s GlassFish Java application, which was beginning to make an impact in the realm of Java application servers, prior to announcement of the takeover in April 2009. Johnson foresees the GlassFish server being sidelined, in favour of Oracle’s Application Server and WebLogic.

However, following the EU’s nod of approval, Oracle has updated its FAQ with more detailed information regarding the future of some of its about-to-be-acquired Sun technologies. The FAQ sets down a three-pronged roadmap for developing the GlassFish Enterprise Server as the open source RI of Java EE specification, supporting the GlassFish community and “invest(ing) in aligning common infrastructure components and innovations” between Oracle’s WebLogic server and GlassFish.

The same FAQ has also been updated to detail Oracle’s plans for NetBeans. Citing a “strong track record of demonstrating commitment to choice for Java developers” Oracle reassures NetBeans fans that they expect to continue offering NetBeans as an additional open source option, alongside Oracle JDeveloper and Oracle Enterprise Pack. However, the FAQ comes complete with a footnote that it is merely “intended to outline our general product direction” and is not a legally binding document.

Meanwhile, Rodger Burkhart, CEO of the open source Ingres database company has been keeping a close eye on the MySQL website over the past few months.

“MySQL used to offer information on migrating from Oracle to MySQL. They had a nice methodology, a flowchart and tools……That stuff has been taken down.”

He concluded that it would be interesting to observe any shifts in MySQL’s relationships with direct Oracle competitors, over the next few months, and predicted an increased MySQL sensitivity towards Oracle’s business interests. Others have taken a more optmistic approach, claiming that if Oracle starts restricting MySQL development, the code can always fork and a new open source version launched. This is something one of MySQL’s original authors Widenius has already been working hard at. He recently developed and released MariaDB 5.1.41 RC database. MariaDB 5.1.41 RC features the same commands, interfaces, libraries and APIs as MySQL. However, crucially, the Oracle-acquired InnoDB transactional storage engine, has been replaced by open source XtraDB, which is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

But, EU campaigner Florian Mueller had these sobering words about the reality of developers cooking up a ‘new’ MySQL overnight: “Forks are a legal possibility but there’s no reason to assume than any MySQL fork could threaten Oracle to the extent that MySQL could.”

Those with a vested interest in Sun software, post-Oracle-acquisition, hopefully won’t have much longer to wait for answers. Oracle have a live webcast scheduled for Wednesday 27th January. It promises to be an “opportunity to learn more about how this powerful combination will transform the IT industry.”

Those interested in watching the webcast, should register now, at Oracle’s official website.

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