Eye on Oracle

Oct 13 2009   4:16PM GMT

‘Father of Java’ outlines what you may not know about Sun Software at OpenWorld

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

What do Brazil’s tax system, Amazon’s Kindle reader and South Korea’s first magnesium sheet plant have in common?

At first glance it may seem like nothing, but these systems share something with approximately 10 billion other devices in the world — Java.

As the ‘Father of Java’ James Gosling pointed out in an OpenWorld session Monday, the number of Java devices on the planet is even greater than the number of people.  So as Oracle takes control of the technology with the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, they definitely have their work cut out for them. As Gosling went through his presentation, ‘The Top 10 Things You May Not Know About Software at Sun,’ it quickly became clear that there were easily more than ten.

While you might think of Java Enterprise Edition when you think of Java, Gosling said that EE is just the tip of the iceberg.  The Java Runtime Environment has an average of 15 million downloads a week, and even more during busy weeks — like when there’s a new release or it’s tax season in Brazil. According to Gosling, Brazil uses Java apps to manage its tax system, and residents can even use their cell phones to file their taxes.

Speaking of cell phones, Java also runs on approximately 2.6 billion mobile devices. Gosling pointed out that, with the exception of the Apple iPhone, it’s hard to buy a non-Java cell phone. At the JavaOne conference in June, when Ellison discussed new opportunities for using Java and JavaFX on mobile devices, Sun’s Scott McNealy joked with the Oracle CEO that he should discuss this with his good friend Steve Jobs.

Though Java doesn’t run on the iPhone, it certainly runs on a lot of other devices – from real-time scanning of vehicle geometry on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the POSCO Magnesium Mill in South Korea.

Here are some other things about Sun software you may not know (and if you do, are important to remember):

  • Think Java is slow? Gosling says that this hasn’t been true for at least a decade, and that HotSpot, Java’s virtual machine, beats C/C++ and Fortran (usually) in performance.
  • It’s important to pay attention to issues encountered when working with multicore processors. The average machine currently has 4 cores, but in the year 2030 it could have many as 5220 cores, Gosling said. In the enterprise world you often get a “free pass,” as EE frameworks usually deal with multicore issues easily.
  • GlassFish is the world’s most downloaded app server, with nearly a million downloads a month. As Gosling showed on a JavaFX map, the world is infested with GlassFish “like a bad horror movie.”
  • The “magic piece” of Java is the virtual machine, not the programming language. Many languages can run on the Java Virtual Machine: Scala, Ruby on Rails, Groovy/Grails, Python, Javascript and more.
  • OpenSolaris’ ZFS, a new data management system, is what Gosling calls “a religious experience.”

And this is just the beginning. While it’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding Sun’s hardware, make sure you take the time to learn about its software, too.

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