IBM and Sun coming to terms on Java and Solaris 10

IBM and Sun coming to terms on Java and Solaris 10

Summary: I knew something was up this morning at JavaOne when I saw Java founder James Gosling schmoozing with Robert LeBlanc, IBM general manager for WebSphere. Also present was Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies at IBM and an advocate of open sourcing Java.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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I knew something was up this morning at JavaOne when I saw Java founder James Gosling schmoozing with Robert LeBlanc, IBM general manager for WebSphere. Also present was Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies at IBM and an advocate of open sourcing Java. Indeed, IBM extended its license to use Java technologies through 2016 and announced that all of IBM's middleware software will support Solaris 10 on AMD and Sparc platforms. The endorsement of Solaris 10 was the culmination of an effort by Sun that started in January with a public letter from Sun President and COO Jonathan Schwartz to IBM CEO Sam Palmisano. He basically threw sand in Palmisano's face for withholding Solaris 10 support from large customers.  

 goslingIBM22.jpg

Sun's James Gosling and Souheil Saliba and IBM's Robert LeBlanc

Sun also announced the beginning stages of open sourcing its Java stack. Sun's  Java System Application Server Platform Edition 9.0 as well as the Java System Enterprise Server Bus (Java ESB) will Solaris 10 (1.7 million downloads since January, according to Sun) in the open community world. "This is one step forward as we continue to open-source all of Sun's software assets," said Schwartz. "It's good for business. It's also good for the world." 

schwartzjava123.jpgIt seems that Sun is now fully committed to becoming synonymous with open source, as sharing and community development. What's 'good for the world' is using the free open source software (FOSS) model to expand the market for its software and services. Free, according to Schwartz, is the key ingredient for reaching the largest addressable market as well as bridging the digital divide.

What's good for business is getting a good share of market by having the best implementations and services associated with deploying open source software in enterprises. In a Q&A at JavaOne, McNealy said that Solaris 10 is faster, better and cheaper than Red Hat Linux. So far, Red Hat doesn't seem to be adversely impacted by open source Solaris 10. McNealy also said that "those who don't join the JBI (Java Business Integration) parade will get left behind." That depends on which parade. The choice of an integration engine, or enterprise service bus, or operating system depends on far more than rhetoric, but for McNealy it's a way to get the dialog going.

I asked LeBlanc whether IBM would open source its application server as Sun has done. He responded that there are "enough open source application servers out there." IBM isn't fanatical about open source--Linux, or Solaris 10, are practical business alternatives to dying breeds of Unix. Don't expect to see open sourcing of DB2, Rational and Tivioli anytime soon, but projects like Eclipse are reflective of how IBM in playing in the open source arena.

I also asked LeBlanc and Souheil Saliba, Sun's vice president of strategic alliances, what kind of horsetrading went into cementing the newfound relationship. They declined to offer any details, but said the negotiation around Java wasn't much different from ten years ago. It's clear that both have different philosophies around the role of open source, but IBM likes the idea of open source Java and having more input into the JCP (Java Community Process). My colleague David Berlind has long believed that IBM has always wanted to gain more 'control' over the evolution of Java from Sun.  At the same time, Sun and IBM look at Microsoft (.Net) as a mutual threat to their businesses.

Sun is keeping its enemies closer with its partnerships with IBM and Microsoft, but that doesn't mean that the companies will play nice. But, with open sourcing, and especially open standards, the potential hazards of competing vendors on their customers will be less toxic...

Bonus links: A snippet from Schwartz's JavaOne keynote.

Java at 10 birthday cake and original team members

java at 10.jpg

Topic: Open Source

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  • This story not getting deserved attention, trouble for Linux?

    I have yet to find a *nix user anywhere that didn't sing the technical praises of Solaris. Simply put it may be the best version of Unix in the market and is several steps ahead of Linux in core areas. (Scalability, Stability, and Extensibility)

    IBM has pledged itslf to open source for obvious reasons, it's free and gets a ton of free labor put in it. But with the release of Solaris under an open source license, it would be nuts for IBM to not look at it. I believe when they are done looking they will see a free OS, tons of free labor going in to it, and a better OS from day one.

    The three way battle between IBM, Microsoft, and Sun may once again morph to a new battle ground. Can you imagine a day when IBM and Microsoft argue who supports Solaris best? Don't laugh, it could just happen...
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Why Linux?

      "Simply put it may be the best version of Unix in the market and
      is several steps ahead of Linux in core areas."

      Solaris is a very good UNIX and certainly betters than the present
      Linux kernel in a number of areas. However the rapid pace of
      Linux development will make this irrelevant in the next 12-18
      months, and today the platforms and architectures supported by
      Linux make it practically irrelevant.

      People complain about hardware support in Linux, try Solaris for
      a real issue.

      Solaris, BSDs, Linux are all going to be around for a long time.
      All have reached the critical mass of community and/or
      commercial support to be self sustaining.

      "Can you imagine a day when IBM and Microsoft argue who
      supports Solaris best? "

      No because they day MS has given up on its monopoly is the day
      it has become irrelevant.
      Richard Flude
      • I have to disagree

        "Can you imagine a day when IBM and Microsoft argue who
        supports Solaris best? "

        No because they day MS has given up on its monopoly is the day it has become irrelevant.

        Hmmm, MS does support Unix (BSD) on the Mac with MS Office and IE. Given the relationship between Sun and MS I can see it happening, especially when MS has already agreed to work with Sun on StarOffice compatibility. Politics makes very strange bed fellows....
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • MS Office support on BSD?

          I don't remember any support for MS Office on BSD Unix. Do you see BSD listed on the side of the Mac version of MS Office? There was a copy of IE available for Solaris, but I don't think that it is maintained at the same level as the Windows version.
          balsover
    • Sun partners with IBM and Microsoft?

      The brontosaur announces entente cordiale with the allosaur and the tyrannosaur, says they've promised him a free lunch.

      The brontosaur sits peaceably in the open field while his newfound friends approach.
      Anton Philidor
    • I don't sing praises for Solaris

      Solaris on a Sparc processor is great but Solaris is and always will be written to optimize performance on Solaris servers, Intel or PPC servers will ALWAYS be an afterthought and will not meet the same level of performance as Solaris does on an UltraSparc platform. On an Intel processor Solaris is not any better than Linux and on smaller machines (1 processor, less that 1 gig ram) it might be inferior to Linux. No one cares about being able to run on 100+ processor servers when 99% of the market uses a machine that has only a single processor. The reason why I migrated from Intel Solaris to Linux was all of the swapping that Solaris would do under no load at all. I could run 3 make jobs on my workstation with Linux and not touch the swap file at all. Running 2 make job on the same machine running Solaris was pretty much I/O bound. Less disk I/O with Linux means support performance.

      The very large Linux machines such as the ones from SGI use tweaked versions of the Linux kernel on proprietary hardware, they would probably gain nothing by using Solaris.

      As far as free labor is concerned, I am fairly confident that there are a magnitude more developers working on Linux than on Solaris.

      I think that what IBM is doing is not much more than a carrot for some of the control in Java development that it craves. That and there is money in selling their own products to users of Solaris. I don't see it as an endorsement of Solaris by IBM even if that is the way the Sun is spinning it.

      Redhat and the other Linux vendors have nothing to worry about from Sun.
      balsover