Oracle CEO, set to buy Sun, hails Java at conference

Larry Ellison reassures JavaOne attendees that Oracle will continue to support the technology, post-merger

Reassuring the Java community, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison pledged a commitment to Java technologies, including the budding JavaFX rich media extension to Java, on Tuesday morning at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

Oracle is in the process of buying Sun for $7.4 billion. Ellison was brought up on stage by Sun chairman and co-founder Scott McNealy, who even suggested Ellison's friendship with Apple CEO Steve Jobs might help get Java onto the Apple iPhone, something that Apple has not let happen despite Sun's interest in doing so.

"We see increased investments in Java coming from the Sun-Oracle combination and an expansion of the overall community and we're very excited about that," Ellison said.

Ellison said Oracle's middleware strategy "is based 100 percent on Java."

"Java was a very attractive platform for us because it was open and it allowed us to extend the platform," he said. "Our whole next generation of business applications, something we call the Fusion suite of applications, is built entirely on Java."

"We think it's going to be very attractive to our customers and to the community," Ellison said.

Ellison said Sun and James Gosling, Sun vice president and the founder of Java, have done a fantastic job inventing, expanding, and opening up Java and giving it to the world. "We're going to do more of the same," said Ellison.

He also gave a thumbs-up to JavaFX and expressed hope that JavaFX could supersede AJAX development because a lot of programmers do not want to program in AJAX.

"Going to JavaFX is going to allow us to build fantastic UIs in Java," said Ellison.

"We're very committed to seeing JavaFX exploited throughout Oracle and throughout Sun," Ellison said. He also said he would like to see OpenOffice group libraries based on JavaFX.

He also expressed intentions to aggressively develop Java applications for devices such as phones and netbooks. "There will be computers fundamentally based on Java and JavaFX, not only from Google but also from Sun," he said, referring to reports of netbooks to be based on Google Android and Java.

Sun at JavaOne unveiled JavaFX 1.2, featuring a cross-platform UI library and support for Real Time Streaming Protocol. The company also unveiled a JavaFX authoring tool now in a preview mode but due to ship by the end of the year.

Prior to introducing Ellison, McNealy said the planned merger was "absolutely a good thing."

While not mentioning the iPhone by name, McNealy noted there is a particular device that did not run Java. "There's a really great friendship that we might exploit here in the Java community between Larry and Steve. If you could just talk to him, Larry that would be just great," McNealy said.

McNealy said he and Ellison first had a conversation about Oracle and Sun joining together 20 years ago.

Prior to Ellison's appearance, Gosling was lauded for his work in creating Java. In an interview on Tuesday, though, Gosling was noncommittal as far as what his plans were post-merger. Asked if he would stay on at Sun after the merger, he said, "I have no idea."

"It depends how things go," Gosling said.

Attendees at JavaOne offered mixed reviews of the planned merger, with some expressing concerns about Oracle's open source intentions. Sun has offered software such as Java and the Solaris OS via open source.

"I think the end result [of the merger] will be a good thing as Oracle is a major user of Java technology," said Trygve Laugstol, CEO of Artekk, a Java-oriented consulting firm in Oslo, Norway. "I'm concerned about if they will keep Sun's current open source strategy as I see it as a critical part of the strategy for keeping the [Java] development sphere open, free and available for anyone to participate and compete."

Another attendee had similar concerns. "I'm just a little bit worried," about what Oracle will enable as far as source code and downloadable materials, said Robert Nowak, a software engineer.

But another attendee expressed relief. "It was reassuring to see Larry talking about an ongoing commitment to Java," said Ian Robertson, lead architect at Overstock.com

He was less impressed with the outlook for JavaFX as an industry player, though. "I think Sun may have missed the boat by a few years on JavaFX with [Adobe] Flex and Flash  out there," Robertson said.

As for the fate of the JavaOne conference itself, McNealy offered vague speculation about this year's event being the last but afterward said he did not know if the conference would continue in future years. It would continue if Sun remained an independent company, he said.

Sun at the event announced a beta release of its Java Store, to make available Java applications online. Monetization plans still are being ironed out, though.

"The objective of the store is very simple: it is to give the whole Java [community] access to the distribution that we've all built out," said Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz.

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