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JavaOne 2006: "Not a Question of Whether, But of How"

JavaOne Keynote Presentation Stresses Compatibility over Openness

It seemed like old days at Sun, with Ed Zander (pictured) and John Gage on-stage. James Gosling was in the audience. The keynote room was full, and a raucous warm-up band was getting people in the mood to be belligerent about Java.

It was the keynote session for JavaOne 2006 in San Francisco. But the absence of Scott McNealy during these proceedings for the first time in the 11-year history of the show changed the overall tenor of the proceedings from one belligerence to one of, well...ambivalence.

In particular, Sun retained a certain ambivalence toward the burning open source Java question during the keynote presentation. Newly returned EVP and software head Rick Green said that making Java open source "is not a question of whether, but of how," the word "how" replacing the word "when" that is typically used at the end of this type of rhetorical flourish.

CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who conducted a brief Q&A with Green, felt compelled to repeat the statement, then have Green repeat it again, presumably for the benefit of the slow-witted press and analysts in the crowd who may not have immediately grasped its full import.

The statement is apparently construed by Sun's management team to represent a true commitment to the "openness" of Java, but it carried with it no timetable and no internal imperative to complete this task. Instead, responsibility will be with "the community" to determine how, and how fast, this transition will occur.

Green said, "We have to lay the cars on the table (and recognize) there are two battling forces: the desire to open things up, and the flip side (that) compatibility really matters. I don’t think anybody wants to see a diverging java platform." Perhaps reflecting this ambivalence, Green made the vague comment that "this really is an issue of doing more...we will sign up for more focus, more attention spent to the technology and the community."

He also said that the open source issue was "all about access and compatibility," but that the key was to get developers to sign up for the process. "Participate in the JCP and use Netbeans," he urged. "Then we’ll be able to move this program ahead." Schwartz also urged the audience to join the JCP, which he said now has 1,052 members.

The keynote session, which was attended by about 5,000 people live and many more on a big screen on the other side of the convention center, was kicked off by Sun Chief Researcher John Gage, who spoke of the importance of "common interfaces and common development environments," as well as the need to implement end-to-end encryption.

Gage called the show "The Java World Cup," in a nod to a boisterous group of Brazilian developers and media in attendance. (Gage, Schwartz, and other Sun executives have become noted Brazilophiles in recent years, staging numerous events and announcements in the largest country in Latin America. And Schwartz said during the keynote that the Brazilian market "is absolutely on fire; the government understands open source and standards.")

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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