SAP slams Oracle Sun's control of Java

Backs open-source JVM


SAP has criticized Sun Microsystems for its control of the group that drives Java, just as rival Oracle is poised to take full control of the body.

In a blog posting, the company's chief technology officer slammed the Java Community Process (JCP) for being "heavily dominated" by Sun to the detriment of everybody else.

Vishal Sikka said Oracle - preparing to buy Sun - now has a "unique opportunity" to turn the JCP in to an independent body, similar to the open-source Eclipse Foundation.

In case Sikka hadn't noticed, Eclipse is also dominated by another big company - IBM.

Sikka has also called on Oracle to open source the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and put it under an independent board with a license that's friendly to closed-source companies like SAP.

By way of incentive, Sikka promised SAP would commit to making "significant" investments in the form of engineering and financial resources for Java and the new group.

In his blog, Sikka pleaded the case that Java is the lifeblood of the IT industry, and that Java should be free of any encumbrances to permit fair competition between compatible implementations.

The JCP has taken plenty of heat in recent years from open-sourcers and individuals who've complained that its board is dominated by big companies who control the roadmap and intellectual property that goes into Java. Also, that the JCP moves too slowly to modernize Java while most decisions take place in smoke-filled back rooms.

This, they argue, has hurt Java. It has slowed the pace of innovation and allowed licenses to be maintained on parts of Java - the test compatibly kits in particular - that cannot be used with open source projects such as the Apache Software Foundation's Project Harmony. The ASF project is working on, guess what, an open-source JVM.

Throughout this, SAP - which made a strategic decision to adopt Java in 2001 - has remained absolutely silent.

Clearly, though, SAP - a company whose executives are pretty anonymous and not given to making public statements - is now rattled by the prospect that its biggest and most boisterous rival is poised to take a controlling stake on the technology its NetWeaver middleware platform is strategically committed to. Oracle is also committed to Java, and it battles SAP NetWeaver with its own middleware in addition to the company's business applications.

SAP is one company that Oracle's senior management regularly beats up on and brags about stealing customers from.

Oracle will inherit all of Sun's JCP powers if, or when, its $5.6bn offer to buy the giant is approved by European regulators. Sun retains a right of veto over Java in the JCP while its employees dominate the Java Specification Requests (JSRs) for new features in the language and platform.

The Reg has been told that Oracle has had talks with JCP members to explain its plans for the group, but these talks have been locked under an NDA so details have not yet emerged. ®

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