21 April 2009

Oracle acquires Sun, Java

Yesterday, Sun was acquired by Oracle for $9.50 a share. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is quoted in the New York Times:

He said Java, the language used in most computer science schools and a technology used daily by millions of software developers, was “the single most important software asset we have ever acquired.”

It worries me that Larry considers Java a “software asset”. Assets must have some value to the owner. What is the value of the Java programming language to Oracle? Perhaps the ability to better sell Java consulting. Or maybe, repositioning WebLogic as the standard Java enterprise platform.

Regardless of what the primary commercial benefit is for Oracle, it’s unlikely to have much to do with improvements to the language and the platform which help the average Java developer.

As a developer who works with Java quite a bit, I see the development of the programming language not as an asset but as a liability for a company. It’s a lot of time-consuming work with very few commercial benefits. Assuming the buyout is approved by the regulators and Sun’s shareholders, it will be interesting to see what Oracle does with their so-called asset in the next few years.