As the ink dried on Oracle’s purchase of Sun Microsystems, many eyes turned from Silicon Valley to Armonk, N.Y. How would IBM react to Oracle’s acquisition of not only data-center hardware that competed against Big Blue’s big iron, but also to Oracle’s control over Java? Indeed, with hardware, software and services all in one place, Oracle began looking like IBM’s biggest problem, and toughest competitor. Few observers expected the companies to work well together.

To our surprise, the companies haven’t gone to war against each other. In fact, it would appear that IBM and Oracle are about to get into the Java bed together.

Looking over all of the ephemera of the announcement yields some interesting clues as to why this happened. In 2007, Oracle and BEA presented and passed a Java Community Process resolution that would have turned Sun’s tightly controlled governance body into an independent organization. Three years later, that resolution has been completely ignored. And yet, it would also seem to be an important part of the latest Oracle/IBM agreement around the OpenJDK.

IBM needs an independent JCP in order to continue supporting Java. Oracle wants buy-in from all of the major Java influencers, such as IBM. By collaborating around the OpenJDK and the JCP, both powerhouses get what they want. It’s always nice to see two heavyweight companies coming together to make development easier for both of their users.

A rising tide of Java lifts all boats, and after a seemingly endless time of benign neglect, perhaps Java is about to reemerge as a leading platform. With this announcement of collaboration and of the reinvigoration of the JCP, there aren’t many questions left in the Java world. And this is the first time in two years that’s been the case.

It’s not too late for Windows Phone
Microsoft’s announcement last month of the Windows Phone 7 release might at first blush be seen as “too little too late.” Certainly, this opinion was expressed by one of the members of SD Times’ editorial board during a recent meeting.

There’s no doubting that Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android devices have raced out to a big early lead, with mature “app stores” that have attracted many independent developers as well as enterprise shops looking to move their applications to smartphones. But don’t ever count Microsoft out when it comes to building a developer community around its software. That’s what Microsoft does.

While Apple holds its cards close to the vest, even to developers using its platform, Microsoft actively embraces and empowers developers using its tools and writing to its platforms. Its developer support, with “Patterns and Practices,” blogs and MSDN, is unsurpassed in the industry—much stronger than Apple’s programs for iOS developers and Google’s support for Android. Microsoft’s efforts around Windows Phone 7 will be no different.

As SD Times editorial director Alan Zeichick pointed out in that editorial meeting, “Microsoft plays the long game. It’s not about the quick score.” Add to this Microsoft’s discussions with Adobe, which could result in a better rich-application experience on its devices if Flash and Silverlight efforts come together, or if Microsoft creates converters for both on its phones.

Let’s not forget that the folks in Redmond are sitting on a mountain of cash, looking for the right investments when the economy begins to show signs of life again. With cell phone application revenues expected to reach US$30 billion by 2013, and mobile application development to grow past development on all other platforms by 2015 (according to IBM survey figures reported in this issue), Microsoft would be foolish not to go strongly into this market. No question, Microsoft will be a strong player in the mobile market, even if it takes years and more false starts (this is, after all, Windows Phone 7). No question at all.