As much fun as the juicy details of the Oracle-Google lawsuit are, the meaning of the suit for enterprise application development managers is, well, philosophical. Aside from sweating over the legal status of your Android phone (if you own one), the lawsuit won’t create drama for your shop. But the long-term implications are serious. Henceforth, Java will be a marching band rather than a jazz collective. Oracle’s action will reduce the independent innovation that has made Java what it is, causing developers to seek new ideas from sources outside of Java. Your Java strategy, as a result, will get more complicated.
A little background: Since the late ’90s, the primary source of Java innovation has been open source projects that either fix Java limitations or provide low-cost alternatives to vendor products. But Java’s position as a wellspring of innovation has been declining in recent years as many Web developers shifted their attention to dynamic languages, pure Web protocols, XML programming, and other new ideas. This trend has been particularly pronounced in the client tier for Web applications, where alternative rich Internet application technologies including Ajax frameworks like Dojo and container-based platforms like Adobe Flash/Flex have replaced client-side Java. Java virtual machines are a foundation of these efforts, but the enterprise and mobile Java platforms are not.
In choosing Java’s future course, Oracle had two philosophies to choose from.