Java’s future will be constrained by the bounds of Oracle's business model.
Drama has been running high since Oracle began to shape up the Java technology it acquired along with Sun Microsystems. Oracle ended the impasse over a new core Java release, set out a road map for the next two years, and began reorganizing Java's ineffectual governance. Oracle's Java road map and commitment to invest reassured enterprise customers and prevented a split with IBM but alienated many in the open source community. But Oracle's plans so far fail to address Java platforms' inherent complexity, which remains Java's Achilles' heel in head-to-head competition with Microsoft's.NET platform. Moreover, a controlled, top-down innovation model will limit Java's role as the basis for the "cloud" generation of platforms, rich Internet applications, and new development techniques ranging from languages such as Ruby to approaches such as business process management (BPM) and business rules. Conclusion: Java's future in the enterprise is alive and well but limited.
Oracle’s strategy for Java will change the Java ecosystem that has existed for 11 years.
Oracle will direct Java innovation. Oracle has made it clear that from this point forward, it will direct all innovation in core Java (Java SE). Oracle will happily accept the contributions of others through OpenJDK as long as those contributions align with Oracle's priorities.
With the seventh generation of its WebSphere software, IBM redefines the state of the art in Java platforms for the enterprise.
The WebSphere 7 product family provides application development and delivery pros with new ways to optimize their application architectures, more development frameworks, automatic transactional reliability, simpler configuration and management, and improved stack integration for BPM, portal, and eCommerce projects. For shops struggling with scale, complexity, and high performance in their Java applications, WebSphere 7 may offer both relief and a simpler, easier-to-manage stack. WebSphere 7 also lays the foundation for cloud architectures and multicore hardware.
IBM, Oracle, and Red Hat JBoss will play leapfrog in Java platforms for the foreseeable future. But clients should evaluate the three leading vendors of Java platforms based on their primary goals for their software, not just by comparing features (and certainly not by comparing public benchmarks). With WebSphere 7, IBM has created a transaction monitor for Java. This goal reflects IBM's primary goals of reliability, integrity, and manageability in WebSphere. In this way, WebSphere is IBM's CICS for the Internet age.
IBM's second primary goal is to create integrated platform stacks. The WebSphere Process Server-WebSphere ILOG-Business Space-WebSphere Application Server combination is one such stack; WebSphere Portal and WebSphere Commerce are other integrated stacks.
Customers should always check the reality before assuming comprehensive integration in IBM's burgeoning WebSphere portfolio. Stack integration will always be a moving target for customers because IBM adds so many acquisitions every year. But IBM's product management regime makes it fairly easy for clients to identify which IBM stacks have high internal integration and which do not.