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Oracle Announces Sun Java Roadmap

The database giant's executive VP, Thomas Kurian, details how Oracle plans to integrate Sun's software into its product lines.

The nine month delay between the announcement of Oracle's planned acquisition of Sun Microsystems and its close was apparently put to some use: Oracle was ready with a roadmap of how it would mesh Oracle and Sun software as soon as the deal closed last week.

At a briefing Jan. 28, Oracle's Thomas Kurian, executive VP of product development, offered a detailed explanation of where specific pieces of both brands of software were headed.

At the end of an exhaustive rundown, he offered this summary: "Our strategy remains to bring a complete integrated stack of hardware and software to deliver fundamental breakthroughs in performance, scalability, and high reliability. ... There is no other vendor in the world that brings the breadth and depth and market-leading portfolio of software and systems that we do. ..." In short, Oracle's software strategy is now harnessed to a hardware strategy.

"We have a very focused and crystal clear direction of what we want to do, down to features and function," he said in closing. "That will translate into a rapid integration and delivery of an integrated product ilne." In many cases, the interoperability of a Sun and similar Oracle product will be assured first, followed by their integration into one product. Customers may continue with the product they have or adopt a new, combined product with features of both.

Kurian's first priority was to emphasize that Oracle wants to improve the performance of the Java programming language for over nine million developers using it. Oracle wants to "revitalize" the Java Community Process, the multivendor organization for ongoing Java development. Kurian would do that by "making the JCP a more participatory process to people from a variety of organizations." Java, he said, is one of the "crown jewels" coming to Oracle as a result of its acquisition of Sun.

Oracle gained the JRocket high performance Java virtual machine when it acquired BEA Systems. It will integrate JRocket technology with Sun's Hot Spot JVM to give Hot Spot greater modularity. That is, Oracle will organize JRocket into more discrete parts that work together.

Oracle will also seek to make Hot Spot a better performer when it encounters multicore chips. One way to do that is to get the JVM to support "local garbage collection," the flushing of software objects and data that are no longer in use by a program for more efficient use of memory.

As a result of the acquisition, Oracle now owns its third Java application server, Sun's GlassFish, which will be maintained as the reference implementation of Java Enterprise Edition 6 and available for what Kurian referred to as "departmental application uses." In other words, small projects may start out with GlassFish, a free download as Sun open source code. Investment in its ongoing development will be continued, he added. Oracle will rebuild it around a microkernel architecture, he said.

On the enterprise level, however, Oracle said BEA's WebLogic remains its strategic product, and Oracle Application Server is still offered as a secondary product. Java application servers were one of the few highly profitable products to emerge in the early development of Java. After Kurian spoke, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison conceded that Oracle and other application server vendors had probably made more money on Java than Sun, which entered the application server market late as it tried meld together models from NetDynamics, acquired in 1998, and Netscape. "We will share technology across WebLogic and GlasssFish," he said.

Kurian said Oracle will seek to continue to optimize the runtime performance of Java Micro Edition, the lightweight version of Java used on smart phones and other mobile devices. Oracle will seek to improve its ability to manage power consumption and give developers of applications for mobile devices the flexibility to adopt different user interfaces. Such a move would give device users the ability to "write an application once, then invoke different user interface behaviors" on the device itself, depending on what the user wished to do.

Oracle will try to accelerate the development of JavaFX, a scripting language that will allow Java developers to produce stronger rich Internet applications, or Web apps that have more interactive features with end users. One use of JavaFX would be to give the user interface a more "cinematic type experience," where users may zoom in on a spot on a map or zoom out on a graphic display to get a larger picture.

It would also allow dragging and dropping components of the user interface into an application. JavaFX will become one of the few languages that runs in the browser window, like JavaScript, he said.

Oracle will continue to invest in and offer Sun's NetBeans Java integrated development environment. "There's very little overlap with JDeveloper," Oracle's database application development tool, Kurian said. Oracle will seek to give NetBeans more support for dynamic languages, although he didn't say which ones. The scripting or dynamic languages, PHP, Perl and Python, have assumed a role on Web sites that Sun's executives once assumed Java would fill because of their more flexible nature and ability to link disparate elements together.

JDeveloper remains Oracle's strategic product for enterprise developers. JDeveloper will be integrated with Sun's Hudson project that supplies application life-cycle management capabilities, which treats an application as an ongoing project and manages all changes to it instead of considering it done when the development team turns it over to operations, Kurian continued.

With its acquisition of SeeBeyond, Sun acquired Master Index, a master data management tool, that Oracle is interested in using in its Health Care global business unit. Master data management manages the creation and storing of data, creating a reference version that a variety of applications can refer to when confronted with data of uncertain timeliness or origin.

If Master Index is added to Oracle's data systems sold to health care providers, a doctor or nurse in a hospital could look at patient information without being in danger of violating data compliance regulations, he said.

Oracle's Web Center Suite will continue to be its strategic portal product but it will incorporate extensions built into the Sun's GlassFish WebSpace Portal, adopted from the Apache Software Foundation's Liferay project.

Oracle will keep Oracle Identity Manager as its strategic product but will incorporate features from Sun's successful Identity Manager, such as Sun's role manager feature, where the role an employee plays determines what access he has to resources.

In system management, Kurian said Oracle's approach of managing its software components "from the database up" was complementary to Sun's approach of managing from the operating system down into the hardware and storage. Sun's Ops Center product will be made interoperable with Oracle's Enterprise Manager, then the two will be combined into a single product," he said.

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