Oracle has moved its TopLink Java persistence API set into the Eclipse Foundation community, the first time Oracle has overseen a runtime project with Eclipse -- and an indication that Oracle's Java contribution days are numbered, if not over.
Interestingly, TopLink, which was acquired by Oracle when WebGain disbanded several years ago, forms as an essential ingredient to the Java EE5 offerings under Sun Microsystem's GlassFish project. The Oracle-lead project under GlassFish forms the basis for EJB 3.0, and is the persistence engine for the modern Java reference implementations.
The new project will be called the Eclipse Persistence Platform, an OSGi-based set of services based on the contribution of the full TopLink technology, said Dennis Leung, vice president of software development at Oracle, and also an Oracle representative on the Eclipse board of directors. Eclipse Persistence Platform will access multiple data sources and allows a variety of data structures. This will lead to adoption of the upcoming Object XML structures.
"This is great news for Eclipse," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. "... We want to do for runtimes what we did for tools. ... It could be the alternative to .NET."
While Oracle says that it will now orchestrate the project within Eclipse, it says it will also remain in GlassFish and continue to support the EJB elements for Enterprise Java. The code is distributed in GlassFish under a dual license, CDDL and GPL. It will now also be soon available under the Eclipse Public License, which is close to GPL.
Oracle said the new Eclipse projects for the support and evolution of the TopLink Java persistence API (as well as for object-relational mapping, XML mapping, and XML-to-relational mapping) will become a "superset" to the Java Community Process and GlassFish activities. That makes Java community distributions downstream of Eclipse for an essential runtime component. It will make an Eclipse-led runtime part of the Java reference platform. And that is curious, and may provoke some issues and/or confusion by the various users of Java.
Oracle moved it tools into Eclipse when the timing seemed right several years ago, and was ahead of many in recognizing Eclipse's appeal.
It seems clear that Oracle sees rapidly building interest by Spring and other framework developers for use of the Java persistence runtime. Rather than point them to general Java use, they are taking the code to the Eclipse-oriented and frameworks-aligned developers directly.
One wonders if more hitherto-fore Java runtime and stack elements are also headed to an Eclipse (or Apache?) community. Was Sun's move to GPL a necessary -- and long resisted -- move that nonetheless opens the door for code defections? En masse?
Are there many large infrastructure vendor code contributors left in the Java Community Process and its offspring? Will other commercial Java vendors look to the Oracle move with some mimicry in mind to move more aggressively to Eclipse for open source project governance?
While Oracle says they have no qualms about the GlassFish experience, it seems to me that this is an indication of a defection. If Java and GlassFish are not allowing developers to access what they need of open source technology with ease, and if Oracle is now a top-tier member of Eclipse (as it has now become), then the role and influence of Java -- as a technology set and community -- must be fast waning.
Indeed, Oracle was a founding and staunch member of the Anti-Microsoft Coalition (remember that?) that then blended into the ascendent Java community in the mid-1990s. Oracle contributed an awful lot to make Java what it became. Oracle now says it's looking at other ways to further its Eclipse involvement beyond the now current four projects.