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Oracle and IBM at EclipseCon: Java Is Number One... Numero Uno. Ichiban. Really. We Swear.

Now let me get this straight: Java is not only safe in the bosom of Oracle, but better off because the company is accelerating innovation, which stalled under Sun. And the OpenJDK is the best way to make that innovation happen. And Oracle and IBM, though still fierce competitors, are committed to working together to protect their substantial investment in Java, so don't worry about that. And Big O's inherent interest in profits -- it's a company, after all -- does not make it the enemy of open source.

Okay. Got it. Can we please move on now?

Mark Reinhold, chief architect for the Java platform group at Oracle, and IBM Distinguished Engineer (and Java CTO) John Duimovich spent about a quarter of their Wednesday keynote at the fifth annual EclipseCon Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., conveying this message. They did it with humor and self-deprecation, but it's time they stopped.

Just last week I was chastising my colleagues in the tech press for focusing on the Java Old Guard when they should be paying closer attention to the new regime. But if the new guys continue to lard their public communications with bland reassurances and prickly justifications, I might have to take it back.

"Oracle's number one priority for Java is to keep it number 1," Reinhold said.

"We want to make sure Java remains number 1," Duimovich said.

Still, we did get a look at their plans for Java. Duimovich said that IBM intends to contribute class libraries and take on the challenge of internationalization. But he also said that IBM is still figuring out how best to participate in the OpenJDK. The company doesn't just want to "just dump undocumented code on OpenJDK." He said Big Blue aims to "earn its way in" over the next year through its considered contributions.

"We're going to participate by improving OpenJDK with our years of experience in the code base," he said. "One at a time, our developers will get known, they'll earn commit rights, join groups, and participate in projects. We expect that to happen over the next year."

He added that IBM would continue to support customers with Harmony code. The company turned away from the Apache Software Foundation's effort to create a compatible, independent implementation of Java Standard Edition under the Apache License. "I don't have unlimited resources," Duimovich said. "That's how we think about it. It's a slight change in investment for us."

Reinhold promised that the OpenJDK would be open and transparent, though he admitted there was still work to be done "to finish the job we started in 2006," when the project was launched by Sun Microsystems.

They touched on Java 8, which is expected in late 2012. This will be the version that offers a more modular approach to Java, Reinhold said, including the ability to work with OSGi. Oracle is a serious backer of the OSGi-based modular approach to developing and deploying applications and libraries. The vehicle for modularization will be Project Jigsaw, an OpenJDK project that aims to design and implement a simple, low-level module system focused on modularizing the JDK.

We also got a hint of their thinking for Java 9. Duimovich wants to see support for massive multi-core processors, NUMA, multi-gigabyte heaps, multi-tenancy, and hypervisor integration. Reinhold's Java 9 wish list includes reification, tail calls, continuations, value classes, big data support, meta-object protocol, and data integration.

We should also expect more coordinated releases of IBM JDKs and Oracle JDKs, Reinhold said.

The title of the tag-team talk was "The Java Renaissance." Reinhold explained that Java is "coming out of a dark time." Adding: "The renaissance isn't just about Oracle. It's about Oracle working with existing partners Red Hat, IBM, and Apple to bring the same code base to more and more platforms."

Didn't the Borgias come to power during the Renaissance?

Posted by John K. Waters on March 25, 2011