Oracle and IBM, who are usually bitter rivals, pledged on Monday to collaborate on OpenJDK, which has served as the principal reference implementation of open source Java.
The two companies will make the OpenJDK (Java Development Kit) community the primary location for open source Java SE (Standard Edition) development. Collaboration between the two vendors also will center on the Java language, JDK, and Java Runtime Environment. Also, the JCP (Java Community Process) will continue to be the primary standards body for Java specification work, IBM and Oracle said. Both vendors plan to enhance the JCP.
In a conference call, IBM's Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies, stressed IBM's newfound allegiance to OpenJDK and its partnership with Oracle. The collaboration, he said, "really starts to take away the uncertainty around the future of Java and where we are going with this."
"Our commitment to OpenJDK, we think, is going to be very good for the whole Java community, and I think we can help improve the pace of innovation," Smith said.
Previously, IBM had never been invited to participate in OpenJDK but worked on an alternative open source Java implementation, the Apache Harmony project. Oracle will continue working on Harmony, but IBM's main efforts will be directed toward OpenJDK, Smith said.
IBM and Oracle will support the recently announced OpenJDK development roadmap, for JDK 7 and 8. JDK 7 is set to feature enhancements like Java Virtual Machine performance improvements and new I/O APIS, while version 8 is slated to add small language enhancements and JVM start-up time and ergonomics improvements.
The IBM-Oracle partnership is about showing that the two largest players in Java are on the same page, said analyst Al Hilwa, of IDC.
"This is about showing that Java is still going to be invested in and that the two biggest players out there are in agreement that it must be evolved rapidly," Hilwa said. "More than that, that they are on the same page as far as the current roadmap, namely to have what was proposed initially as a single release has now become two quick releases, Java SE 7 and Java SE 8. I think it means that Oracle is very passionate about evolving Java and that they are willing to work with archrivals in good spirit to keep Java relevant and important."
Hilwa added he expects IBM and Oracle to fix the JCP and "make sure that it does not get bogged down with competing interests at the expense of the future of Java."
"Overall this is good news for Java developers," he said.
Oracle has been under fire from Java founder James Gosling for failing to put Java under the jurisdiction of an independent JCP, something Oracle supported in 2007 before it acquired Sun and Sun's treasure chest of Java technologies. Asked about this pledge during Monday's conference call, Oracle's Adam Messinger, vice president of Oracle Fusion Middleware, hinted that there had been some discussion recently in this vein.
"There was a [JCP executive committee] meeting scheduled for last week, and it was very productive. We're not going to talk about what went on until the public minutes are released," which should be shortly, Messinger said.
OpenJDK was begun by Java founder Sun Microsystems, which was acquired by Oracle earlier this year. Sun began open-sourcing Java in late 2006.