sábado, octubre 16, 2010

Oracle/Java: Golpe de timón de IBM?

Leído primero en Infoq, y luego en todos lados...IBM anuncia que colaborará con Open Java Community (OpenJDK):
REDWOOD SHORES, CA & ARMONK, NY - 11 Oct 2010: Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that the companies will collaborate to allow developers and customers to build and innovate based on existing Java investments and the OpenJDK reference implementation. Specifically, the companies will collaborate in the OpenJDK community to develop the leading open source Java environment.
With today's news, the two companies will make the OpenJDK community the primary location for open source Java SE development. The Java Community Process (JCP) will continue to be the primary standards body for Java specification work and both companies will work to continue to enhance the JCP.
The collaboration will center on the OpenJDK project, the open source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) specification, the Java Language, the Java Development Kit (JDK), and Java Runtime Environment (JRE).
Oracle and IBM will support the recently announced OpenJDK development roadmap, which accelerates the availability of Java SE across the open source community.
"The Java community is vital to the evolution of the Java platform," said Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president, Oracle. "The collaboration between Oracle and IBM builds on the success of OpenJDK as the primary development platform for Java SE."
"IBM, Oracle and other members of the Java community working collaboratively in OpenJDK will accelerate the innovation in the Java platform," said Rod Smith, vice president, emerging technologies, IBM. "Oracle and IBM's collaboration also signals to enterprise customers that they can continue to rely on the Java community to deliver more open, flexible and innovative new technologies to help grow their business."
Java is a general-purpose software development platform that is specifically designed to be open and enable application developers to "write once, run anywhere." The platform is most widely used in business software, web and mobile applications.
Una ola de comentarios sobre este movimiento. Existe coincidencia en que este acuerdo, más allá de todo lo positivo que pueda tener, también tiene un perdedor: la implementación de Java Apache Harmony, de la cual participa IBM y colisiona con OpenJDK. Dice InfoQ:
InfoQ asked if IBM would continue to support both Apache Harmony and the other ASF projects with which it is involved. Smith suggested that they would, but also made it clear that IBM would be shifting its development effort from Apache Harmony to the OpenJDK. As part of this, Smith noted that IBM could bring some innovations from the Harmony project across to the Java SE Reference Implementation.
¿Qué rumbo tomará Java ahora? InfoQ recoje algunas opiniones positivas:
De Mike Milinkovich, de la Fundación Eclipse:
Today’s announcement that IBM is going to join forces and work with Oracle on OpenJDK is good news for Java, and by extension for Eclipse. All of us who live within the Java ecosystem need to recognize that this fundamentally strengthens the platform, enhances the business value of Java and offers the hope of an increased pace of innovation.
Although it will take a while for all of the ramifications and reactions to become clear, at its face the announcement challenges the conventional wisdom that the future of Java is going to be a fractured one. Some recent examples of these expectations can be seen in blog posts like James Governor’s “Java: The Unipolar Moment, On distributed governance for distributed software” and Joseph Ottinger’s “The Future of Java: forking, death, or stasis”. When I read them just a short time ago, I thought they accurately reflected the likeliest outcomes for Java’s sure-to-be fractious future. Now I am much more optimistic that we can get back to innovation.
To me the overarching motivation is obvious. Both IBM and Oracle have a shared interest in assuring their enterprise customers that Java was, is and always will be the safe technology choice that they’ve been selling for the past ten to fifteen years. As much fun and excitement as a further escalation of the “Java Wars” would have been, both companies have a very large vested business interest in combining forces, closing ranks and focusing on reassuring their customers that Java should remain their platform of choice.
This announcement fundamentally alters the equation in at least three important ways.
  • The presumption of conflict: Implicit in almost all of the recent writings on the future of Java is the notion that IBM’s interests would lie in direct competition, if not outright conflict with Oracle’s. Many have been assuming that IBM would eventually snap and declare war on Oracle’s Java hegemony, with the battles being fought in places like OSGi, Apache and Eclipse. It is now apparent that is not going to happen. Furthermore, now that IBM is working with Oracle on OpenJDK, we can expect a lot more mutual support within the JCP on driving specifications, especially platform specifications, forward.
  • Oracle is focused on reviving the business of Java: In case you hadn’t noticed, Oracle’s stewardship of Java is going to be a significant departure from Sun’s. As Amy Fowler said…this is a practical company who isn’t suffering from an identity crisis and knows how to make money from software.” A couple of thoughts on the differences: First and foremost Oracle actually has resources to invest in moving Java forward, whereas Sun’s financial weakness prevented forward progress for at least the past three years. Second, Oracle is putting in place the software engineering discipline and process in place to ensure that future releases of Java can happen on a much more reliable and predictable timetable than Sun. Third, Oracle is large enough and confident enough in its execution that it is much more comfortable in striking business deals with its co-opetition such as IBM. It will be darn interesting to see if they are successful in signing up more participants down the road. And finally, there will be less talk about community-driven motivations and more focus on the business. In my opinion, all but the last of those are unequivocally positive. But Oracle’s current focus on the business at least offers the hope that it may pay community dividends down the road. It is a lot easier for large companies to consider community motivations when they’re profitable and feel that they have momentum on their side. The past couple of years of Java have been years of stalemate, lack of innovation and lost opportunities. Turning that around has to be job one if Oracle is going to see a return on its acquisition.
  • This is an inflection point in the Oracle-IBM relationship: If you think back a few years ago, IBM and BEA were two companies who competed fiercely in the Java marketplace, but managed to collaborate on many JCP specifications and in numerous open source projects at places such as Apache and Eclipse. It was a mature industry relationship. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t seen a similar historical pattern with IBM and Oracle, even after Oracle acquired BEA. This is an important step in the relationship between the two companies, at least in the Java space. Hopefully it is a harbinger of additional collaboration.
The big question is what are going to be the reactions of the other significant players in the Java ecosystem. The actions of Google, SAP and VMware in particular will all be interesting to watch.
 De Mark Reinhold, Chief Architect de Java Platform Group en Oracle:
I’m very pleased that IBM and Oracle are going to work more closely together, and that we’re going to do so in the OpenJDK Community. IBM engineers will soon be working directly alongside Oracle engineers, as well as many other contributors, on the Java SE Platform reference implementation— starting with JDK 7.
I expect IBM’s engineers to contribute primarily to the class libraries, working with the rest of us toward a common source base for use atop multiple Java virtual machines. We each have significant ongoing investments in our respective JVMs; that’s where most of the enterprise-level feature differentiation between our respective products is found, and it makes sense for that to continue. Focusing our efforts on a single source base for the class libraries will accelerate the overall rate of innovation in the JDK, improve quality and performance, and enhance compatibility across all implementations.
Our tighter collaboration will be evident not just in OpenJDK but also in the Java Community Process. IBM has endorsed Oracle’s proposal for Java SE 7 and Java SE 8, which already has strong support from across the community. We’ll also join forces to enhance the Java Community Process so that it remains the primary standards body for Java specifications.
This is excellent news, for the Java SE Platform and for OpenJDK. I’ve gotten to know many of IBM’s top Java engineers over the years, and I now look forward to working more closely with them.
También es muy importante la opinión de Bob Sutor, con larga responsabilidad en este área en IBM:
When people talk about open source, the notion of “forking” often comes up. The idea is that some folks are not happy with the direction in which a project is going, so they take a copy of the source code, come up with a new name, and set up shop elsewhere. This is no guarantee that the newly forked project will be successful, but it functions as an important escape valve for those who have donated time and effort to a community project and want to see the work done in what they believe is the right manner.
You less often hear about what I’ll call a “reverse fork”: people developing largely similar but separate projects who decide that they instead want to work together. They can do this for a variety of reasons but it all comes down to “burying the hatchet” or otherwise resolving their differences for the sake of the project.
(...) IBM will work with Oracle and the Java community to make OpenJDK the primary high performance open source runtime for Java. IBM will be shifting its development effort from the Apache Project Harmony to OpenJDK. For others who wish to do the same, we’ll work together to make the transition as easy as possible. IBM will still be vigorously involved in other Apache projects.
We think this is the pragmatic choice. It became clear to us that first Sun and then Oracle were never planning to make the important test and certification tests for Java, the Java SE TCK, available to Apache. We disagreed with this choice, but it was not ours to make. So rather than continue to drive Harmony as an unofficial and uncertified Java effort, we decided to shift direction and put our efforts into OpenJDK. Our involvement will not be casual as we plan to hold leadership positions and, with the other members of the community, fully expect to have a strong say in how the project is managed and in which technical direction it goes.
We also expect to see some long needed reforms in the JCP, the Java Community Process, to make it more democratic, transparent, and open. IBM and, indeed Oracle, have been lobbying for such transformations for years and we’re pleased to see them happening now. It’s time. Actually, it’s past time.
Ultimately this is about making Java more successful and pervasive than ever before. Java is not about any single company’s technical direction and it helps prevent lock-in. It runs on many, many different operating systems and hardware platforms. As a blatant plug, let me say Java runs exceptionally well on Linux and IBM’s System z, POWER, and Intel-based hardware. Indeed Java is one of the open standards that makes System z the amazingly interoperable platform that it is.
Java is about compatibility and always has been. It’s not been easy to maintain runtime environments that are consistent across platforms while exploiting the underlying features and performance advantages of those platforms. With this newly unified OpenJDK open source project, we can give customers the confidence they need to continue to invest in Java-based solutions knowing that they will get the best technology, the most important innovations, and the tightest collaboration among industry leaders.
We believe that this move to work together on OpenJDK is in the best interests of IBM’s customers and will help protect their investments in Java and IT technology based on it.
So to summarize my opinions on this: OpenJDK represents the best chance to provide a top notch unified open source runtime for Java; customers will benefit by having first class Java open standards developed collaboratively and constructively; and our energy will be focused on working together and optimizing our joint work, rather than wasting time on duplicative projects.

De las opiniones críticas, hay una especialmente didáctica: la de Paul Fremantle, participante de proyectos de la fundación Apache, y coincidente en puntos esenciales con Sutor:
This week IBM announced it would be supporting Oracle's OpenJDK. At first glance it seems like "Great!"
Isn't it good that two big supporters of Java are getting behind a single open source project?
Well, in my personal opinion, no. It is bad. Bad for Java. I'll try to explain why.

The first point is that IBM are not just saying they will support OpenJDK. They are also saying that are pulling effort out of Apache Harmony. Apache Harmony is a project to build an Open Source JVM under the Apache license, rather than the GPL which is the license under which OpenJDK is available.

Harmony significantly predates OpenJDK and parts of Harmony are widely distributed in Android phones. Unfortunately there is a huge cloud over Harmony right now, and this news just made that cloud a good deal blacker. The lack of some IBM committers on the project isn't the problem. Apache encourages enough diversity that projects live on when one company pulls out.

To understand the clouds over Harmony let's first look at the legal situation here. Intellectual property, as we all know, is protected by two main models: copyright and patents. Simplifying hugely, copyright is about copying code, patents about copying ideas.

Apache Harmony was designed and built as a clean room implementation of Java. So no code was copied from any existing copyrighted JVM. But that doesn't protect against copying ideas - because even if the developers came up with the same idea independently, the patent still applies.

So how do Open Source projects protect themselves against patent issues?

The main way is to work with Open Standards that are covered by Open Specification promises or "Royalty Free" patent licenses. This is where major IP owners such as IBM and Microsoft have stated that they will not exert patent rights over either Open Source or Open Standard implementations of a particular standard.

Likewise most new standards from organizations such as OASIS are built on a Royalty Free basis, which means that all the companies that helped author the standard offer a free patent license to anyone implementing the standard.

There is a model under which Sun (and now Oracle) offers protection from patent issues: The Java Specification patent grant says that as long as you fully implement the Java specification and pass the tests that prove it - the Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) - then you have a perpetual royalty-free license to patent rights that Oracle has over Java.

This sounds great. Not only has Sun/Oracle has made available Java under an Open Source license (GPL), but if you don't want to use GPL you can simply write another JVM that conforms to the tests and you won't be sued for patent infringement. Perfect. So what on earth are those whiners at Apache bothered about?

Unfortunately it isn't quite so simple. I hope you are following me so far. All Apache Harmony needs to do to protect against patent suits is to pass the TCK. Can Apache Harmony pass the TCK? Well, yes and no. Would it pass the TCK if the tests were run? Probably. Can the tests be run? No.

The TCK is not available to Apache in a way that allows Apache to run it. The JDK is available as Open Source, but the TCK isn't. To protect against patent issues, you have to talk to Oracle and get the TCK. And they will only give it to Apache with restrictions. In particular restrictions of a kind called Field of Use (FOU) restrictions.

Ok, this is becoming overly legal. I apologise. But I think its important to understand this story, because this really gets to the heart of how open Java is.

Open Source is not just "published code". If you take an Open Source library, then you are allowed to redistribute the code without prejudice. This is key to Apache and the Apache license. So Apache can't build in restrictions on who is allowed to take Apache code or what they can do with it. The Apache license doesn't allow it.

Unfortunately, Sun - and now Oracle - have said that they will only give the TCK to Apache if it restricts how the Harmony code can be used. Effectively what Sun/Oracle is trying to say is that Harmony code cannot be used by mobile devices (like Android). If Apache were to go along with this, it would mean shipping Apache Harmony under a different license from the Apache License. And this would no longer be Open Source.

Why not? Well a key part of the definition of Open Source is that there is no restriction on the Fields of Endeavour. In other words, if Apache agrees to the FOU restrictions that Oracle insists on, then the result would be that Harmony would not be Open Source. Naturally Apache cannot agree to that.

Let's recap. Anyone can create an Open Source JVM, but they cannot get patent protection unless they agree to Oracle's FOU restrictions, at which point it is no longer Open Source. Therefore no-one but Oracle can create an Open Source JVM without fear of being sued.

Ok, this all sounds highly legalistic and possibly quite theoretical so far. That was until Oracle sued Google over patents breached by Android phones running code from Harmony. The gloves are off. And the real result of this is that the only Open Source JDK that you can rely on having a patent grant is the OpenJDK. And if I modify OpenJDK then I am at the mercy of Oracle to grant me a TCK license.

Unfortunately this is simply bad for Java. Java as a language is threatened by many other new and old languages. For many users its simply a commodity runtime that they will use as long as it is commonly available. And knowing there are Open Source implementations that they can use is part of that decision. Knowing that there is effectively only one Open Source project that is free from Oracle's patent claims will affect the perception and the reality of Java's openness. And for many people the fact that this is under the GPL is an issue. You can see why IBM joined OpenJDK: Oracle has Apache Harmony in a tight place.

If you want to know more - as well as hearing the official Apache line as well as my own, then please take a look at Apache's letter to Sun when this first happened.

When this first blew up Sun was a struggling company that you could have argued needed the extra revenue Java licensing to mobile phones bought them, and which Harmony and Android threatened.

The question before us now is whether the same is true of Oracle, and whether Oracle is working in the best interests of its customers, the Java community, and the Open Source community. Do you believe that Oracle should license the TCK under an open license? And are you happy that despite the move to take Java Open Source, there really is no freedom to create Open Source implementations of the Java language.

The good news for Harmony is that Apache's diversity approach means that IBM pulling out won't harm the future of the code. The bad news is that there is one less company putting pressure on Oracle to make Java truly open.
Que Oracle piensa hacer valer sus patentes, lo demuestra la demanda abierta a Google por Android. Más allá de que los defensores de la fundación Apache se vean particularmente afectados, los reales hechos parecen darles la razón, aunque la decisión de IBM quizá tenga tanto valor como el esfuerzo de Apache en Harmony. Queda por ver si la voracidad no es enemiga de los buenos negocios.

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