With Oracle’s recent purchase of Sun, developers have been following the company carefully to see if will take the steps to keep Java relevant. Al Hilwa, a senior analyst at IDC, said, “Oracle wants to navigate the fine line of exerting direction and managing it better and tighter and keeping excitement in it. They have to appeal to the issue that developers care about, which is not typical of the Oracle of the past.”
In order to help developers stay aware, IDC has recently published a report analyzing Oracle’s road map. Perhaps surprisingly, Oracle has made some dramatic changes to its acquisition strategy in order to keep Java relevant, noted Hilwa. He explained, “They seem to have had enough time to study this and put out a fairly careful roadmap. This is fairly smart because all eyes are on them. There is a fair amount of anxiety about the future of Java and they clearly sensed that.”
In the report, IDC found that the classic problem for an acquisition between two software vendors is where to invest the R&D resources. More investment in one technology robs funds from the other. In this acquisition, there are many overlapping technologies in IDEs, JVMs, and application servers. Oracle has to rationalize the R&D in all of these areas. It is a challenge for them and they have tried not to upset anybody.
In some cases, Oracle has decided to invest, even when no direct revenues were available. For example, it initially planned to cast GlassFish off to a community-development effort. But later reversed course and decided that it needed significant investment since it is the reference implementation for Java EE.
Oracle has traditionally been a very hard-nosed company which has focused on high value products that are directly monetized with expensive licenses and support agreements. Along the way they have gained a reputation as being a take no prisoners type of company, which is not conduce to a developer outreach attitude. They have taken the opportunity in buying Sun to reposition themselves. “It is a bit of an experiment for them,” said Hilwa.