OPENWORLD - Sun CEO sets open source Java time frame

Demonstrating a perhaps more aggressive path than anticipated, Sun Microsystems is set to announce the open-sourcing of the core Java platform within 30 to 60 days, Sun President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz said at the Oracle OpenWorld conference on Wednesday.

The core platform encompasses the Standard Edition of Java, and it will be offered via an open source format under an OSI (Open Source Initiative)-approved license, likely the same one used for Sun's open source Solaris OS. Sun officials, including Rich Green, Sun executive vice president for software, have talked about Java being offered via open source in stages later this year and into 2007. Parts of it, such as the Java Enterprise Edition, already are available via open source, with the GlassFish application server constituting the open source enterprise variant.

Under pressure from the community at large, Sun officials announced at the JavaOne conference in May, also in San Francisco, that Java would be made open source. But they did not provide a specific time frame.

Schwartz, who said he is in his 184th day as CEO since taking over for Scott McNealy, stood atop his open source soapbox to tout Sun's ongoing open source efforts.

"We announced about a year-and-a-half we were open-sourcing Solaris and making it freely available and a strong trend emerged," Schwartz said. Sun, he said, crossed the 6 million-license barrier for Solaris about two to three weeks ago; 70 percent of Solaris licenses are now deployed on computers from rivals Dell, HP, and IBM, he said.

"Frankly, our relationship with those three vendors has been transformed. They are now channel partners for us," with Sun able to deliver Solaris support for those customers, Schwartz said.

Sun's relationship with Oracle, meanwhile, has grown stronger, he said. "Between the two companies, I don't think our partnership has even been stronger than it is now," Schwartz said. The relationship was viewed to have taken a nosedive in recent years as Oracle emphasized Linux solutions over Sun's Solaris alternative. But now, Sun is using Oracle applications internally.

Schwartz also offered perspectives on a variety of technology trends. He noted that everyday, new devices besides PCs and servers are being networked, and he cited an amusement park's usage of RFID tags in dolls given to children. The dolls are then used to track children and the formation of lines at the park. Oil rigs also are being outfitted, he said.

"It's not just people joining the Internet," Schwartz said.

Sun, Schwartz said, focuses on customers who see technology as offering a competitive advantage rather than just as a cost center. The company through its Sun Fire servers has become the industry's fastest-growing provider of x64 servers, he said.

Special-purpose systems are dying out, Schwartz said. "At this point, you can take general-purpose infrastructure and replace almost all custom infrastructure," he said.

Schwartz also cited how his dentist has a server on hand to track patient information. Over time, a service operator will offer this service and save dentists from needing their own servers, according to Schwartz.

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