Skip to main content

Some more food for brain about the Oracle vs Google war

Posted by fabriziogiudici on August 30, 2010 at 7:19 AM PDT

While most people keep on screaming, you might find it reasonable to keep on watching out and understanding what's happening; and wait before deciding to support one of the two parties. These two articles are interesting in my opinion:

The latter post is from the past April, so it was written long before the war inception, and the title might appear misleading (Andreas clearly says in the article that Android is not evil). It's not a partisan post, but a detailed insight about how Google controls Android. In the end, both articles should give you some ideas about the fact that there's no battle against or pro open source (as Google wants us to believe), but the two corporates are just making their own interests, trying to grab as much control as they can on the technologies that will make money for the next decade.

If you look at the current scenario, there are lots of patent and copyright wars going on, involving almost all the big corporates. I must say that I'm finding it really stressing, especially when powerful sound waves from the battlefield strike us (just to say the last one, Google backing out of JavaOne and the continuously running debates in the mailing lists and forums, often giving no good contributes).

Waiting for the things to clear up, there's a thing that can be said about Oracle. I find it stressing the complete lack of communications aimed at the community from a high level perspective. In the past months there have been long periods of uncertainty about the roadmaps of the many FLOSS products that Oracle inherited from Sun. For instance, after the reassuring announcements in January, NetBeans missed for several months a roadmap. In the end, it has been published. I reckon that delays could have been caused by the internal reorganization of the company and probably the communications for each specific product (with the notable exception of OpenSolaris, which we understood has died by inferencing the lack of communications from Oracle) are on the way of normalization now .

But the same can't be said for the general strategies. I mean, the Java ecosystem is a scenario with many players - Oracle, Google, other corporates and the community - where costs and profits can be partitioned in different ways. The key point is the way they are partitioned. It's clear what happened in the past: most costs were upon Sun and most profits flew to other corporates and to the community. This was not sustainable and it's clear that Oracle's plans for the game are different. More profits will go to Oracle and possibly less to the other partners (of course, the game is more complex than a simple zero-sum equation). As a community we must accept this, while we can't accept a situation in which Oracle is the only one to make profits. Until the equilibrium point is clearly spotted, at each move of a big actor we will overwhelmed by over-reactions. In this scenario, initiatives such as Gosling's t-shirts pledging for keeping Java free can't help much, as the message is not clear (and if the community just means to keep things as they were under Sun, well, this is just unfeasible).

Larry Ellison said that he wouldn't like the blogging attitude of Jonathan Schwartz. So, in the end, nobody is explaining us what the general strategy is - and some areas, such as the future of Java 7, inherited the uncertainty that already started under the last years of Sun management. Larry Ellison is supposed to speak at the forthcoming JavaOne, and I think that at this point it's convenient for us to wait since there are only three weeks ahead. But one/two high-level communications per year are not enough as they leave too room to speculations, fears, doubts and eventually disguise from other parties. In the end, Oracle would be the first to gain from a good communication; unless they just don't care of the community, of course.

Related Topics >>

Comments

Why wait?

Larry Ellison is supposed to speak at the forthcoming JavaOne, and I think that at this point it's convenient for us to wait since there are only three weeks ahead. But one/two high-level communications per year are not enough as they leave too room to speculations, fears, doubts and eventually disguise from other parties

I've been waiting from january to end of may for OpenSolaris 2010.03, and I finally decided to turn to FreeBSD 8.1 (and it's the best thing I've done in years).

I think I won't wait anymore. After all there's no need to wait for Larry Ellison and friends to speak at a conference. They speak every day, don't they?

There're lots of technologies out there that you can use today and that are released under a truly free license, patent free, out of the control of Larry Ellison and friends. I can use any of them, and rest assured nobody is going to sue me or tell me how to do things or which tools to use (but customers, of course, but then that's their problem, not mine).

I got rid of Windows APIs ages ago since it was a vendor specific technology and I am happy I did. I can do the same with Java again. There's no need to wait anymore!

2 points

a good article, you look at it a lot more objectively than many others ;-)

i think out of this mess there are 3 clear points that have come out of this. you highlighted them, but i wanted to add a bit more.

1. it's unhelpful for google to say this is about open source versus a patent troll

oracle and google have very different business models. sun previously wore the majority of the cost for the ecosystem, and paid for it. the sale oracle is the end result of that paying and of other big companies (IBM, Oracle, Google, lots of consultancies) feeding off that and not giving back enough.

2. oracle communications and community relations sucks big time.

i mean, it really really does. they prefer the silent "we will let you know in time" rather than the "here's what we are doing and why we are doing it". we won't get far pushing though -- the EU monopoly commission was stonewalled by them also. they'd rather fold than let on about their motives and plans. this leaves a very bad community impression. it may also be the case that they literally don't care about a community, certainly not an open source one which doesn't pay them directly.

3. there are lots of shrill, hysterical developers

where to start. comments like "oh no, java is dead, let's all move to mono" are just the start of it. then you have the .net or mono side getting pleasure out of comments like "I told you java was less open than .net" etc etc. aiiieee.

andrew

Prepare to learn new stuff.

It's clear what happened in the past: most costs were upon Sun and most profits flew to other corporates and to the community. This was not sustainable and it's clear that Oracle's plans for the game are different. More profits will go to Oracle and possibly less to the other partners (of course, the game is more complex than a simple zero-sum equation).

It is an interesting idea. Ironically, now,Google invest its own money to develop Andriod and Oracle wants to share what Google can earn from it.

In the past, it seems that Oracle is the one to invest less but gain more. If Oracle wants the new balance like that. I guess, very likely, developer will leave Java ecosystem. Yes. you are right that the game is more complex than a simple zero-sun equation. Other companies also can develop its own language to compete with Java, just like what Microsoft did for .Net. I guess Google has the power to do the same stuff easily.

BTW, some new languages, like Fan and Scala actually can run on both JVM and CLR. Maybe it is the time for Java developer to prepare to learn new language that is not tied with Java....

Good

Frankly, if this imminent mass exodus to Google's great new language includes all the people that get on Java based forums to declare it dead for the past ten years or so, it might even be a positive change for the Java community. And I am only half-joking :-).

Thanks a lot...

Fabrizio,
Guess it's time for me to congratulate you on the rational thought :-). I do agree with you about Oracle's awkward silences and the Java communities apparently (self-)destructive FUD levels...
Cheers,
Reza

Thank you for trying to be rational

I am terrified from all this highly emotional bullshit on the Oracle/Google patent struggle. There is simply far too little information to join a side anyway. People programming computers should be rational people, but this does not seem to be the case. You seldom see rational arguments in all these forums, only dull war cries. As we can not change capitalism easily I think there are some facts to consider:
1. Companies need to make money, they have to pay their people, including their software engineers and they have to appeal their share holders.
2. Java has to make some money for its owner. The owner has for example to pay its engineers, legally protect Java, lead the way, protect Java from being forked and so on.
3. Oracle and Google have different business models: Oracle sells software licenses (and consulting), Google sells personalized advertising. This results in totally different requirements where exactly to make the money.
4. Oracle has no history of being a patent troll.
We all do not know what has happened. Maybe Google resisted on licensing Java when Oracle asked them to. We even do not even know why Google does not participate in JavaOne. As Fabrizio reasoned somewhere, it might be Oracles or Googles fault. If it would be Google fault, they cynically use all those small programmers as their human shield to get a good price for the license from Oracle. They do not tell. Please people stay calm. It is often a mistake in life to tamper in a dispute of other people when you do not know what it is all about. Especially when those people are multi billion dollar companies struggling to make their money. What can be said is that Oracle needs to explain many things to their community. So people wait three weeks and see whether they have to say something. I think this is fair.

... not counting that if the

... not counting that if the community raises the FUD level, it could be the community itself to make some damage - giving for instance some reasons to Android competitors, such as Microsoft or Apple, to falsely assert that Android is at stake.

my reply to Oracle

I was registered with Sun's various newsletters and promo emails. After the acquisition these emails eventually started coming from Oracle. Today's email was titled: "Get a Free $10 iTunes Gift Card from Oracle" with some crap inside.

I hit reply with the content:
"Stop sending me any more junk until your lawsuit against Google ends."

My only regret is that I should have clearly said "until you drop your lawsuit against Google." But I'm guessing they'll know what I meant.

I'm also considering leaving the JCP in protest.

I'm going to side with Google on this one

The lawsuit aside, they have done more for the community over a longer stretch of time than Oracle ever did. Oracle can say all it wants, but their actions are far more hostile to the Java community than Google's. I personally hope that Oracle has enough humility to realize that they don't have the know-how to drive Java and sell it off to Google.

Could you elaborate on

Could you elaborate on that? You said "done more than", and I'd like to hear more about that.

" unless they just don't care

" unless they just don't care of the community, of course." may be the key statement here. I hope really it's not true (I think Oracle with its resources could do great things with Java). But it could also destroy it with some short sighted moves. Honestly, I don't expect Larry's keynote to say much (except some good sounding sound bites and slogans). Oracle's actual actions in the next 12 months will clarify their intentions much more.