Will You See Open Source J2EE Implementations?

by Steve Anglin

O'Reilly & Associates' Executive Java Editor (books) Mike Loukides gives us his take on the current state of open source enterprise Java and the hurdles open source projects like JBoss experience. He also wonders about Sun's current open source licensing policies regarding J2EE. I wonder too. Well, here's a possible reason why Sun may not be backing open source J2EE implementations.

After talking with some open source advocates, intellectual property attorneys and other IT professionals who will not go on record, I believe that Sun is doing this to protect themselves and their J2EE vendors. Primarily, they're doing it to protect themselves from their vendors or even losing their vendors. By vendors, I mean the big names who are J2EE certified, names like BEA Systems, Oracle, IBM, Sybase, Allaire, etc.

Sun's on record saying that they would rather let their vendors lead the Java implementation process. It's certainly more pragmatic for developers to learn and use Java in this way, and certainly more cost-effective for Sun. Sun would rather be the known as an organization for Java instead of commercial backer. However, there seems to be some disadvantages to this. For one, IBM is probably leveraging its strong position as a Java implementer by negotiating aspects to the J2EE vendor agreement which may force Sun to make it difficult on open source vendors. Other J2EE vendors may be doing the same, in order to be the lobby for Sun on all things Java.

IBM carries the most weight since it is also a partner with Microsoft (who would have thought) on backing key .NET Web services initiatives and standards, some through the W3C like SOAP and WSDL. Sun may feel compelled to give IBM certain clauses in its J2EE vendor agreement with the fear that IBM could go off and support other Micorsoft .NET initiatives and technologies such as C# as well as the CLI/CLR.

Well, this is just a theory. I certainly invite Sun and even its vendors to submit a reply to Mike's editorial. For more, visit ONJava.com.

What do you think of this possibility? Please share your views on this here in our Talk-Back at the end of the article.