Sun President: Open Source, Java Business Integration Good For Partners

Sun Microsystems President and COO Jonathan Schwartz discussed partner opportunities around open-source technology, Web services, service-oriented architectures (SOAs) and Java Business Integration (JBI) technology in Java Enterprise Edition 5 in an interview with Senior Writer Paula Rooney at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco. Here is an excerpt.

CRN: What is the primary significance of Java Enterprise Edition 5 [JEE5]?

SCHWARTZ: In terms of technology innovation, I'd point you to what's going on with Java Business Integration and service-oriented architectures and market opportunities not only for rewriting applications but also for syndicating applications to create components. EJB3 and JBI are all coming together as a coherent [Web services] platform for customers [in Java Enterprise Edition 5]. If you look at SOAs, a lot of people are creating headaches for customers. If you say 'Web service,' they're not sure what it is. Now it's becoming eBay,, These are Web services, and with JEE5 now customers can syndicate [Web] services together to build a rich, composite application that services their needs. And we made that much easier.

CRN: Sun has made available more of its software under its Community Development and Distribution License [CDDL] and is finishing up JEE5 with the Java Community Process [JCP]. What are the opportunities for partners with open-source software, as well as with commercial Web services and JBI offerings?

SCHWARTZ: Undeniably, the announcements we made [on Monday] establish the relevance of Sun's software assets in the marketplace. The iForce partners should look at the strategic changes we're making as creating market opportunities, not destroying market opportunities. We will create a broader business opportunity. It's not just for the server but for software, services, storage and everything we do. They're using a free product to sell, and we're here to create market opportunities for them. We will ensure that we do a good job of preparing iForce partners for monetizing the open-sourcing of the Java Enterprise System.

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CRN: We heard a bit about the future version of the Java Standard Edition specification, code-named Mustang, on Monday, as well as about the possibility that it might allow Sun's Java Virtual Machine and Microsoft's CLR to co-exist in the Java platform. Is Mustang the big Web services play?

SCHWARTZ: What we announced with JBI is a profound shift in the evolution of Web services. Web services in Java used to be a contradiction, and now they are commonly defined. But there's constant innovation on client and server and evolution on desktops as on the server. Time will tell. I don't have perfect answers right now.

CRN: Are there any plans to open-source any of the StorageTek software under the CDDL? What other areas is Sun eyeing for potential acquisitions?

SCHWARTZ: Time will tell, and that acquisition hasn't closed yet. All of our acquisitions are reflective of our strategic [goals], and not just technology but operational strategy. We'd be unlikely to make an acquisition of a company that ran counter to our philosophy of open standards. That's about as specific as we'll get.

CRN: Will all editions of the application server be available under the CDDL? The version currently available is the platform edition.

SCHWARTZ: If Johnny has his druthers, yes. There's no reason for us to hold anything back. Open source doesn't mean free, as in no revenue.

CRN: Will Sun open-source the entire stack? Can you qualify?

SCHWARTZ: You have to separate the specification from the products. What we're saying is, the products we deliver that Sun uniquely controls we will open-source and open up to the community to facilitate in the evolution of those products. It's about creating communities, not dumping source code. How much of Java Sun will open-source is not a question we can answer, since we do not control Java.

CRN: When will the Java Enterprise System [JES] will be available under the CDDL?

SCHWARTZ: There is no static definition of the Java Enterprise System, just as there is no static Java. It will evolve over time, and when you say 'all open-sourced,' you assume there's an end point. [But for now], clearly the application server [is open-sourced], and we took another step forward this morning [by open-sourcing] Enterprise Service Bus. And we have open-sourced our development environment, NetBeans, and made a big contribution on Sunday by open-sourcing the collaborative environment so developers around the world can collaborate. ...

CRN: Is that in anticipation of Microsoft's expected launch of Visual Studio Team Edition in November?

SCHWARTZ: We're so all over that. ... It's not in anticipation of. It's pre-emptive.

So I don't have answer [about when all Sun enterprise systems will be open-sourced]. I can't give an explicit date, but it is in the plans for the vast majority of Sun products.

CRN: How will Sun's expanding open-source model impact its partner channel?

SCHWARTZ: If you talk to any Fortune 500 company, no one will deploy unsupported software. So open sourcing--and this is a message to the partner community--means you get to have the world's most efficient market development channel. Now it's the customer already using product if they didn't have to pay to evaluate it. Now you have the opportunity to sell what they really care about: the rights to use future product and make a phone call in the interim if it doesn't go the way they wanted.

CRN: To what extent is there an opportunity for partners to modify and customize Sun software for their customers?

SCHWARTZ: The opportunity is for systems integrators more so than iForce partners and resellers. For those who do customization for a living, who create derivative works based on the technology that Sun provides, it's a fabulous opportunity to do that and receive full [indemnification] protection from Sun. But the reality is that most customers don't want a variant of commercial products. In the Linux community, people ran a variant of the kernel and distribution, and companies called for help and said, 'We can't support you because you customized the products.' The vast majority won't customize.

CRN: So what's the value of all this open-sourcing activity--of Solaris, the application server platform edition and the Enterprise Service Bus--for Sun's partners?

SCHWARTZ: You can poke around, and if you run into a bug, you can get faster bug fixes. Secondly, you have transparency [into source code], so you can see why an application isn't running as well. You could look at the source tree, or you can move to your own platform [and customize].

CRN: Will all of Sun's open-source software be released under the CDDL?

SCHWARTZ: That's certainly the intent and the likely path, for one very good reason: The CDDL gives customers and developers choice. Other licenses presuppose a way of life on you when you use their code. You don't want to worry about intermingling your code and then have to give it back to the community. You want to create competitive differentiation. But there is no one hammer for all nails. That's why we licensed Looking Glass under the General Public License [GPL].

CRN: Given concerns about open-source licensing proliferation, why didn't Sun just go with the Mozilla public license?

SCHWARTZ: The Mozilla public license [MPL] has a statement that says Netscape Communications can at any time unilaterally change the license, and it was later modified to say the Mozilla Foundation. Our customers won't be comfortable with that. We serve a global community, and we want to extend patent indemnification into the license. The MPL is silent on that.

CRN: Sun introduced a new commercial licensing scheme for Java Standard Edition. Does that mean it won't be open-sourced under the CDDL?

SCHWARTZ: We must make a distinction; the specification is through the JCP. The licensing around Java Standard Edition is a little more complex than on the server side. The competitive dynamics are very different because there is one company that holds 95 percent of the marketplace. So we have to be careful not to open up that distribution angle as a potential threat to the compatibility of the software platform. Companies that control distribution of the technology tend to wield all the power, so if you open-source JES it implies giving control to a company that may not be so aligned with our market interests. So we'll be a bit more careful about that. But the intent is, it's identical on desktop as on the server. CRN: Microsoft made announcements about making Windows Mobile 5.0 more competitive with RIM's BlackBerry, which is based on Java. What is Sun doing to advance the Java platform for mobile?

SCHWARTZ: IBM's validation with its 11-year licensing agreement validates that this is an open-participant, dynamic community and cuts [the perception] that Sun controls Java. As we look to the future of mobile devices, whether BlackBerry or Blu-ray devices, it's a validation of the Java process that will drive the next wave of innovation. We have no plans to be in the push e-mail environment, but we're supportive of [Java partners]. They picked Java 70 to 1 over the [Microsoft] .Net platform [for mobile development].

CRN: Solaris shines against competitors in dynamic partitioning and trusted containers, and these remain competitive differentiators. With OpenSolaris, are you now concerned that platform vendors might reverse-engineer your technology and catch up quickly?

SCHWARTZ: I'd encourage them to do so. Look, you don't open-source code lightly.

CRN: But if it popped up in a Microsoft operating system?

SCHWARTZ: Then they'll have to sign the CDDL and live up to it. And I'm not holding my breath.

CRN: By open-sourcing your app server, are you taking on BEA, JBoss or IBM?

SCHWARTZ: We are all competing for an edge. We hope it will bring us as big of a share of the next wave as possible. We've been a relatively small player in the traditional application server market, and we'll hope to be a bigger player in the next wave.

CRN: What keeps you up at night?

SCHWARTZ: My two-and-a-half-year-old.

CRN: From a business standpoint, that is.

SCHWARTZ: Perception is something we've worked diligently to improve in the developer community, and now the perception of Sun is 180 degrees different than it was three years ago. We are now truly a leader in the open-source community, driving authentic standards-setting processes. And IBM's validation [on Monday] put a nail in the coffin of the cynicism that says Sun [controls Java]. It starts with the developers. Now we can turn our attention to investors and customers. Now we can try to grow financially and give investors something to get excited about.

CRN: There were published reports that Sun will be privatized. Is that under consideration?

SCHWARTZ: It's not in our plan.