And where have all the owls flown?
I love owls; they are so elegant and have a strong personality (too bad in so many years I've been unable to take photos at any of them!). Unfortunately in my culture (and probably many others) they have also got a bad reputation, as they were considered messengers of bad fortune. It's for this reason that in italian a "gufo" is also a person who, for innate attitude or purportedly, makes always bad predictions - a doomsayer, in other words. In italian there's even a colloquial verb, "gufare" (literally "to act as an owl"), expressing this attitude.
Since when Larry Ellison announced to the world that Oracle was buying sun, flocks of gufi (pronounce as the Disney character Goofy) exercised their pessimistic views on the fate of Sun, its products and its personnel. Recalling them in no particular order:
- Oracle is a software company: how can they be interested in hardware? This is the end of Sun appliance (a few benevolent owls left a small hope about selling the division to Fujitsu). And in any case, who might want a Sparc? It's not worth the sand is made of.
- Solaris and ZFS are dead. Who will use the former - everybody is using Linux. And Oracle has got Btrfs, which is the ZFS killer - I mean, it's still unusable in production as its home page says, but who cares? Everything is better than stuff made at Sun.
- JavaFX is dead. It has been always a bad idea, bad implementation, nobody wants it; furthermore it has been a waste of money of the latest Sun in financial crisis, an evident sign that they had completely lost their brain.
- Java ME is dead. It's already dying on its own, because everybody is using the iPhone or Android, but Oracle is not interested in phones and such.
- NetBeans is dead (I still recall in particular one owl, saying: "Three words: NetBeans is history"). It's a piece of crap, everybody is using Eclipse anyway, and Oracle has got already JDeveloper - so figure out. What? The NetBeans Platform? Never heard of it. And anyway nobody is using it, rich client desktops are dead, and in case people use Eclipse RCP.
- Glassfish is dead. Oracle already has got WebLogic, so why should it spend money for another?
- JavaOne is dead. Oracle has already got its own conference, which is made for people in suite and tie, not for developers.
- And the last in temporal order: Oracle will lay off half of the current Sun personnel, and will probably kill most of them overnight and bury in a mass grave. Who needs them? And it's known that Sun engineers are mostly brain-dead morons who invent useless crap.
Unfortunately, the sparkling efficiency of the European Union kept those owls under the light spot for months, months and months, making their hoots resounding in the void - well, indeed not so void, because Oracle made a few official communications - saying what circumstances allowed - and dismissing most of the bad predictions. Nope. Gufi kept flying and hooting all the way.
Now, yesterday the thing has come to an end - thanks God! In the much-waited for official announcement Oracle explained its new strategy with a good bunch of details, and:
- Oracle is particularly happy to have bought Sun's hardware - the fact that they are now able to provide the full stack is seen as one of the most important things that competitors should fear of.
- Solaris and ZFS are key points in the "full stack" strategy, and ZFS is probably one of the most cited technologies in yestertday's presentations.
- JavaFX is seen as a strategic asset both in the desktop (where Oracle plans the integration with its business software) and in the mobile fields, including TV-boxes and such (as a personal note, I'm particularly pleased of this, as JavaFX and people behind it have been especially bashed for months. My congratulations to my friend Joshua - and please, Josh, extend them to all your workmates).
- Larry clearly said (answering to an explicit question): we're not interested in making phones, but in making Java that runs on phones. The convergence for JME to JSE will be accelerated.
- NetBeans, far from being dead, will receive more attention, to become the best IDE for Java SE, EE, ME and JavaFX (while JDeveloper remains with its load of professional, Oracle specific supporting tools), Yes, some features will be no more focused on (such as the support for extra languages), which won't probably mean a dramatic change since the thing remains open and the community can step in - already today support e.g. from Scala is mostly a community effort. And the extra good news are for the NetBeans Platform: with the exception of the latest few months, it has been never business-promoted by Sun, in spite of an extraordinary portfolio of customers using it. The attitude changed recently, but in the transition period, in which Sun's intentions were subjected to the change of owner. Well, Oracle confirmed its interest and commitment to the Platform too: so, from this perspective, Oracle is making things even better.
- Glassfish stays here, as the Reference Implementation of JEE and for the community.
- JavaOne is not dead - it will be held at the same time (September) of the main Oracle convention, but it will keep its own space and character. And will be exported in some hot spots of the world (China, India, Brasile, Russia).
- Larry explicitly said that who made the catastrophic predictions for the Sun personnel was "irresponsible". There will be some redundancies, but Oracle is already hiring new people and the balance will be positive.
Sure, we have to learn more details in day-by-day decisions in next weeks and months. It could be that from here to one year something has drifted taking care of feedback from the market - in particular, the relationship with the communities, the preservation of JavaOne character and so on will have to be proofed by facts. Read my lips: I don't make predictions, I'm interested in facts and I'm the first to strictly follow Oracle and see whether promises will be honored. But official events such as yesterday's are not made for telling people fancies: Oracle described its official strategies to the world, including investors.
So today we can positively say that gufi were wrong!
PS I still have to understand for which reason Sun in the past has attracted so much hate - I mean, they made a lot of mistakes (or they wouldn't have been forced to sell), but we have enjoyed for years their excellent technologies and mostly for free; they have also been the corporate that above all others was able to create real, efficient and independent communities of users. I can't say but a big THANKS to them (and this is indeed matter for a specific post).