Oracle To Offer Free and Paid 'Premium' Versions of JVM

Oracle is planning to offer two versions of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) sometime in the future, one free and one a commercial "premium" version, a company spokesperson said last week. The two OpenJDK-based JVMs will be derived from a merged version of JRockit and HotSpot, still in development.

Oracle inherited the JRockit JVM when it acquired BEA, and it has been the strategic JVM for the Oracle WebLogic Suite. Sun's Hotspot JVM, which is more broadly adopted, came along with the acquisition of that company. Oracle unveiled plans to whittle down the number of VMs in its catalog by integrating Hotspot and JRockit JVM at the JavaOne conference in September.

Speaking to attendees at the annual QCon San Francisco conference during a session entitled "The Road Ahead for Java," Adam Messinger, vice president of development in Oracle's Fusion Middleware Group, said that "there will always be a high-performance gratis JVM." He offered no pricing details on the commercial version.

Messinger, who is responsible for managing the Oracle Coherence, JRockit, WebLogic Operations Contro and other Web-tier products, told conference attendees to expect an initial release of the two JVMs sometime next year. "Our plan going forward here is to converge these into one VM," he said. "This will take us probably about three years to get done. The product teams have already been merged."

OpenJDK is the free, open source implementation of the Java Standard Edition (Java SE) specification. It's licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) with a linking exception. (The GPL linking exception exempts components of the Java class library from the GPL licensing terms.)

In October, Oracle and IBM announced plans to work together on the OpenJDK project "to improve the rate and pace of innovation" in the Java community.

Combining redundant product line has been one of the key challenges facing Oracle since its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January, observed IDC analyst Al Hilwa. The company also has three IDEs to deal with: its own JDeveloper, which it sees as strategic; Sun's NetBeans IDE, which has a devoted following; and the Eclipse IDE, which Oracle supports with the Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse. And it has to two Web application servers: WebLogic and Glassfish.

During his Qcon session, Messinger told attendees that his company also plans to share the Hundred Kb Kernel (HK2), which is the modular core of GlassFish, between its two Web app servers.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].