IBM not yet ready to split with Sun over Java

According to sources familiar with the situation, tales of the demise of IBM's relationship with Sun Microsystems - as a result of Sun's decision not to pass development of Java technology to a standards body - have been greatly exaggerated.

Recent reports have placed Big Blue in secretive talks with bedfellows as strange as Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, with the companies apparently pondering a split from Sun that would threaten to create a Java implementation separate from that coming out of the Java Community Process (JCP). Late last year, Sun made the decision not to pass development of Java to the European Computer Manufacturers' Association, opting instead to have that work carried out through the JCP.

A source familiar with IBM's Java stance, however, claims that such talks have never taken place, and that the company is, in fact, attempting to iron out its disagreements with Sun, fissures that are centered around licensing agreements related to branding issues.

"There's no truth to (the rumours of a separatist group including IBM and Microsoft) whatsoever," the source said. "IBM is still committed to Java, has invested a lot in Java, and isn't going to resolve any issue without first hearing what the other party has to say."

Fortunately, according to a second source, IBM will not have to wait much longer to hear what Sun officials have to say. IBM is reportedly one of several that has been invited and will attend a meeting later this week with Sun's George Paolini, recently appointed as the company's Java ambassador via his position as vice president of Java Community Development.

Though details of what will be discussed at the meeting have yet to be disclosed, sources say the thrust of Paolini's pitch will be how Sun can better work with other companies to ensure that the Java Community Process remains open, cooperative, and vital.

"George is, and always has been a good diplomat, so I'm sure he'll try his best to hold the Java community together," said a source familiar with the meeting plans.

Further proof that IBM and Sun are not as far apart on Java-related issues as supposed by some, comes from a source close to the computer giant who noted that the company remains committed to implementing the core Java APIs (application programming interfaces), and to supporting the Apache-led Jakarta reference implementations of the Java Servlet 2.2 and JavaServer Pages 1.1 Specifications.

Of course, the source noted, while IBM is a staunch supporter of coordinated, cross-vendor Java technology efforts, the largest of the Java community members remains less than enthusiastic about the prospect of paying for branding, thus leaving the door open to continued political positioning.

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