San Diego, CALIF. — Roberta Holland reports that although Sun Microsystems Inc. recently completed its first elections to the two executive committees overseeing Java, it’s unlikely the elections will put to rest concerns about just how open the Java Community Process is.
Thirty companies and individuals were elected in a two-part process, the first consisting of Sun nominees and the second of nominees from the Java community. Those elected will meet for the first time Dec. 12.
Sun created the executive committees this summer as part of the revamped Java Community Process, a move intended to quell concerns about Java’s openness in the absence of its submission to a standards body. Sun balked at handing over Java to an outside group, citing possible fragmentation as one drawback.
One of the committees oversees Java for enterprise desktops and servers, while the other covers Java in the embedded and consumer markets. Sun maintains ultimate control over the language and new platforms.
“I think the process went quite well,” said George Paolini, Sun’s vice president for evangelism and marketing, in Cupertino, Calif. “We didn’t have any dimpled chads, so I guess we’re ahead of the national guys.”
Sun used a mix of its own nominees and nominees from the community to try to get a balance of industries and vendors that have invested in Java, he said.
Paolini noted that Sun already has been on the losing side of issues since the process was set up, but he acknowledged the criticism is likely to continue.
“Dialogue is important, and dialogue including criticism – that’s important as well,” Paolini said. “I doubt we’ll ever have everyone in full agreement that this is the right way to go.”
Other committee members say the process is an improvement, but more work needs to be done.
Sandy Rankin, IBM’s director of Java and emerging software technology, said one of the first tasks the committees will tackle is the legal agreement participants must sign to get involved in the JCP. That agreement has raised concerns among vendors about protecting their intellectual property rights, and it will be a telling decision.
“In the end it still is primarily a single company that has responsibility for most of the IP and driving the direction,” said Rankin, in Somers, N.Y. “And that continues to be a problem for a lot of us since most of us are competitors.”
One new executive committee member is WebGain Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., the maker of Visual CafÈ for Java. “Everyone wants to have more opportunity [for input], and this is definitely a good step toward meeting that goal,” said Allen Bannon, WebGain’s director of business development.
Not elected to the group was Novell Inc., a longtime supporter of Java and a past critic of the process. Novell was on the interim committee appointed by Sun but did not get elected.
Art Nevarez, architect for Novell’s chief technology officer, said the company will still be active in the JCP but as a participant in the various expert and working groups rather than as a committee member.
“We didn’t see a big need to be on there,” said Nevarez, in Provo, Utah. “Once the process was there, it wasn’t important for us to … own the seat. With IBM being on there, we feel very comfortable they’re going to push for everything we want.”
The non-Sun executive committee members are Andersen Consulting, the Apache Software Foundation, Apple Computer Inc., BEA Systems Inc., Inprise Corp. (which is changing its name back to Borland Software Corp.), Caldera Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Fujitsu Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Insignia Solutions Inc., IONA Technologies, Matsushita Electric Co. (Panasonic), Motorola Inc., Nokia Inc., Palm Inc., Philips Consumer Electronics Co., Research In Motion Ltd., Siemens Corp., Sony Corp., WebGain, Wind River Systems Inc., Zucotto Wireless Inc. and Doug Lea, a professor with the State University of New York in Oswego. Some companies, like IBM and BEA, are on both committees. According to the election statistics, 85 people voted, or roughly 34 percent of the eligible voters.