Oracle's acquisition of Sun, and the lack of certainty about the direction of the new company, gave rise to mixed feelings on the show floor at the annual JavaOne developer conference this week.
Despite a 'business as usual' attitude from Sun, whispers about new commercial strategies for Java technologies were not hard to pick up. And although Sun openly addressed this issue with its launch of the Java Store application store and Java Warehouse developer portal, the longer-term future of the Java language and platform was still open to question for many.
ZDNet UK spoke to people on the show floor, to get their reaction to JavaOne and to find out what they make of Ellison's plans for Sun and Java.
Craig Dickson, an Australian-born software engineering manager at Behr Paints in California
"It's been a very interesting show, given the fact that the Oracle deal has been resonating around the fringes of many of the informal discussions here this week. Oracle does participate in the JCP [Java Community Process], and they have contributed in part to the open-source community (not counting the stuff BEA contributed before being taken over) but, overall, when you think open source and open standards and community and collaboration, Oracle does not jump to the top of too many people's lists.
"Oracle's own products are built heavily on Java (I mean anything above the core DB layer), so they have an intrinsic need to have Java succeed. The best thing for Oracle is for the Java community to thrive. At the same time, Oracle needs to figure out a way to monetise the Java brand — something Sun never achieved.
"The other big thing on my mind is Netbeans. Oracle's JDeveloper is not my favourite tool, and I don't think you will find anyone outside of an Oracle shop willingly using it as their IDE. So I expect Oracle will definitely want to keep Netbeans going, under that name or another. It also puts them in a position to challenge IBM, which is traditionally (and historically) associated with the Eclipse brand. I think we will see Oracle build out their DB management tools on the Netbeans platform, and we will see a tight integration to be able to write the code and hit the DB all from the IDE.
"I think the last big issue is the Java community. Sun has built a community around the Java brand unlike any other development platform — I am thinking particularly of .Net here. In reality, the community is probably as valuable to Oracle as the IP they will get from Sun. The Java community spreads well beyond Java these days — just take a look at some of the sessions at JavaOne this year, which are only tangentially related to Java at best."
Robert Fischer, independent technology consultant from Durham, North Carolina
"So far, I haven't seen much flash-bang-wow technology being brought forward, let alone any revolutionary thoughts being presented on the future direction for Java. Traditionally, JavaOne has been used to communicate Sun's vision for Java in the months ahead, and we've not seen much of this as yet.
"The only new item is the Java 'Store' application showcase, which is 'me too' technology in many senses, as Sun needed to launch it to play catch up with the likes of Apple's iPhone store and RIM's BlackBerry offering.
"JavaFX seems to have been upgraded to the level it should have been when it was launched in terms of the addition of built-in native components, so this is a refreshing development."
James Governor, principal analyst, Red Monk
"I think the Java community has failed to understand a few things and got it wrong in many ways in recent times. I mean this specifically in terms of the way they have been worried about Oracle which, as a company, has the potential to help improve Java in many ways now.
"Sun is in an interesting position where they are being blamed for everything, and I think this is sad, to be honest. For a start, why complain about the situation in hand now? If anything, wait for a year of Java stewardship under Oracle, so that you have some developments to actually comment on. Oracle may help streamline and massively improve the Java Community Process — we just don't know what is going to happen yet.
"The Java community costs a lot of money, and Sun has spent billions of dollars trying to support it. Oracle won't support it in quite the same way and will in all likelihood take a more pragmatic commercial hard line to the way it positions the technology.
"If you look back over the last decade or so, Sun had huge streams of money coming in from its workstation sales and latterly from its high-end server products — and a lot of this money went into supporting Java. Instead of complaining, almost everybody here at this show has made a lot of money out of Java, so I feel that they should be saying 'thank you' to Sun this week."
Aleksey Maksimov, a Russian-born Capgemini solutions architect from Woking
"The keynotes this week were evidence that the Oracle deal has been agreed but is clearly still not complete. Sun was careful not to say too much about it while it is still in progress.
"That said, I do feel that Java the language and Java the platform will still be well looked after in the months ahead.
"If I look at the new technologies being introduced this week, I think the big moves for Java are not the new APIs we're hearing about, but the products that actually help developers, such as the tools designed to simplify Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) deployments. These are the type of augmentations that will actually make creating complex Java applications more simplified at the enterprise level in the workplace.
"Looking at JavaOne itself, it's a well-organised event. At least there is no orally transmitted human virus being shared around this week like last year, although there are plenty of handwash stations to stop the spread of swine flu."