- Related Stories
Sun promises to open-source JavaMay 16, 2006
Java inches closer to open sourceMay 16, 2006
Ex-Sun exec returns to run software groupMay 1, 2006
Sun: Same song, second verse?April 25, 2006
Sun: Four years to go in x86 transformationApril 17, 2006
Sun to offer more free softwareNovember 30, 2005
Former Sun exec jumps to CassattApril 14, 2004
(continued from previous page)
One of the first big announcements from Sun after you joined was that the company intends to open-source Java. Summarize what you think you'll achieve by doing that. Also, could you address compatibility, which we've been told has been the thing that has historically held Sun back?
Green: I want to separate out the buzz in the industry from the reality, which is, by and large, most individuals have full open-source access to the technology. That said, the means of licensing, the flexibility of using that open source is affected by what Jonathan and I announced at JavaOne. And that's why we're going to take the steps to go fully free up the technology. But it should be well-known that virtually everybody gets the access to the source (code) of Java today, but we want to further make flexible what you can do with that stuff going forward.
So, we fully intend to do it. It makes perfect sense. It kind of removes from the system the noise or the angst of Java in terms of access and flexibility. So that's a big deal. Now the compatibility issue is a risk, but I think it's a risk well worth considering taking. Not only is Java more advanced than, I think, any other open-source software in terms of compatibility testing, the availability of (testing suites) and other things like that, but the number of applications out there is so enormous that they tend to drive compatibility. I think this is a manageable issue.
When do you expect to actually open-source Java?
We're working pretty hard on making this happen pretty quickly.
How much time do you think you have before Sun shows results from its investments in software?
Green: You know, the results are multivariate. We did 5 million (downloads) with Solaris. So how're we doing? Not so bad for a year's work. The metrics are interesting: They are downloads, adopters, developers, financial goals, etc. I think there's a lot of acceleration in the system already.
I think where we really have to spend some time as a company, as an organization in the community, is in the middleware area in particular. Between the acquisitions we did for identity and business integration as well as the rest of the industry-standard open-source middleware stack, we have some really good stuff out there, and it's packaged in such a way that it is more usable than individual piece parts. I don't think we've done a good enough job of getting the message out, that that technology should be considered.
The announcement we made at JavaOne of open-sourcing that whole stack, integrating it with our developer program, getting more sort of eyeballs onto that technology is a big priority for me.
It seems as if all large vendors are appealing to developers. Do you think there is more competition for their eyeballs?
Green: In the context of open source, there are more lines of code, more artifacts for people to look at than ever before, I agree with that point.
You know, you can argue (that) we are not beginning to do this, we are returning to our roots of it, and in that regard I think there's a fundamental deep respect for Sun with developers and administrators with regard to our core technology, our technology strengths and our open-source plans. I think once people got through the "are they really going to do it?" (question), I think we're going to end up very quickly on the No. 1, No. 2 list of companies you look (to) for open-source business models and technologies in the industry; it's 20-plus years of us doing this.
You see a lot of activity among developers happening in open-source projects and outside the standards processes, where most of Java development has historically happened. Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing for Sun and Java?
Green: Oh, I think it's a great thing. You have to make sure that you don't get too hung up on history being the only way to do things. Standards were a great way of operating in the industry in a pre-open-source-world lifestyle, because they were the only way to gain sort of visibility and normalization or compatibility in products that were available in binary form. Now that things are available in source code form, (there are) different models of innovation and creativity and different notions of what is standard.
So we're not trying to control it. We're not trying to say, "If it's not Java, it's not good." You'll see us reaching out to these projects and programs and supporting those things in ways greater than we've done before.
Scripting languages is one of the hot areas in development right now. What can you do to appeal to that crowd? Some people argue that the Java virtual machine should be the
virtual machine for all scripting languages.
Green: I actually don't want to see things go in any way that the industry doesn't want to go. So I'm not trying to dictate a direction, you know, I think the fact that Sun hired Tim Bray...the most-read Web 2.0 scripting guy on the planet, is an indication of our intent. He is the guy who was so in touch with this community, or rather these communities. He is a fan of Java, but he's not only a fan of Java, you know, I think in many respects running these (scripting) environments on top of a virtual machine is a wise idea, but Darwinism reigns. We'll see what developers do, and you'll see more and more programs and energy offered up to help them innovate and help them decide. We're not going to lead the witness here.