SAP has joined the OpenJDK project, an Oracle-led initiative producing an open source implementation of Java that also has gained support of such companies as IBM and Apple in recent months.

In an announcement on an OpenJDK mailing list, SAP's Volker Simonis, on behalf of the SAP JVM team, revealed the company had signed the "Oracle Contributor Agreement" pertaining to OpenJDK. "This means that with immediate effect the SAP JVM developers can officially join the discussions on the various OpenJDK mailing lists and contribute patches and enhancements to the project."

"SAP is a longtime Sun and now Oracle Java source licensee who has ported the original Sun (now Oracle) JDK to all the 14 SAP-supported platforms, including the Oracle-supported Linux/Windows/Solaris platforms plus Win/IA64, AS400/PPC64, HPUX/PA-RISC, HPUX/IA64, Linux/IA64, Linux/PPC64, Linux/S390 and AIX/PPC64," said Simonis. 

SAP's participation was viewed as a necessary move by analyst John Rymer of Forrester. "It strikes me that SAP had to join OpenJDK to support its Java work. SAP has some people doing deep Java development. Better to be involved in OpenJDK than not. I've heard nothing to indicate the relationship is anything but amicable and devoid of 'vendor drama.'"

OpenJDK produces a version of Java SE. The initiative has rivaled the Apache Harmony Java project, which has been mired in controversy over disagreements about licensing.

That dispute has spanned both the Sun and Oracle stewardships of Java, but Oracle has gained some big players lately for OpenJDK. Apple joined in November and pledged to contribute key components, tools and technology for a Java SE 7 implementation on Mac OS X. IBM joined in October, after having participated in Harmony.